While reading “Rising tide: Company unveils plans for cutting-edge turbine to be deployed next spring” it spurred some interest on how tidal power continues to slowly move forward. Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) offered an open house to everyone in the Eastport Maine community(1). ORPC’s open house was on their 35-ton research vessel Energy Tide 2 (see video Beta TidGen™ Power System Project). Energy Tide 2 allows ORPC to test the sites for the viability of tidal power. ORPC is preparing for a large scale operation deployment trial 96-feet-long and 18 ton turbine to be installed in the seabed at Cobscook Bay.
ORPC is one of many “tidal power evaluations” which are not moving to production phases. Hyundai Heavy Industries has deployed a 500 kW tidal current power system at Uldolmok Passage in Jeollanam-do, southwest Korea using the Gorlov turbine based system (similar to the ORPC system) (2). Production test phases are a core engineering milestone. It take many of the assumptions for how the mechanic and electrical systems will operation and put them under long term production stress. These lessons will be used for later production phases, continuously improving the systems.
Bottom line, tidal power will be a reality. We moving from the “hope and hype” to “engineering and experience.” With engineering and experience, we will then have the data to validate the long term economic viability of tidal power (i.e. does it make economic sense).
(1) Building good will in the community is a nice lesson learned. Some of these projects will have changes to the water line and add an “industrial” view. The open house helps.
(2) Gorlov’s turbine, inspired by the Darrieus rotor of 1931, extracts up to 35% of the kinetic energy of moving water, even with a flow rate of as little as 1.5 metres per second and in only a metre of water. Compare that with the energy yield of only a little over 20% achieved by the most efficient models to date. The Gorlov Helical Turbine is also independent of dams – it can be sited in any suitable underwater location.