USA Energy Secretary Chu hails opening of first commercial tidal array in Maine

By RTCC staff

The USA has opened its first commercial, grid-connected tidal energy project off the coast of the north-eastern state of Maine.

The turbines – designed by the Ocean Renewable Power Company – are expected to start working in September, initially providing power for the equivalent of 75-100 homes.

In time the US Department of Energy (DOE) expects capacity to be increased to provide electricity for 1,000 homes and businesses in the area.

Ocean Renewable Power Company's TidGen tidal turbines - the project cost $21 million

In total the project is estimated to have cost $21 million, with a $10 million investment from the DOE.

The array is located in the Bay of Fundy – apparently one of the most robust tidal energy resources in the world.

Each day, 100 billion tons of water flow in and out of the bay with the force of 8,000 locomotives and tidal ranges of up to 50 feet. Tides can also be forecast accurately, making tidal energy one of the most reliable and predictable renewable resources available.

“Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to create jobs and strengthen US global competitiveness,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“The Eastport tidal energy project represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry, helping to create new manufacturing, construction and operation jobs across the country while diversifying our energy portfolio and reducing pollution.”

Earlier this year, the Energy Department released a nationwide tidal energy resource assessment, identifying about 250 terawatt hours of annual electric generation potential from tidal currents.

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