The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Portland, Oregon-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. a US$2.25 million grant for testing the deployment, anchor and retrieval system of ORPC’s tidal and river units at the marine hydrokinetics (MHK) project site in Cobscook Bay, Maine.
According to the agency, “ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy.”
ARPA-E said, “ORPC will develop an innovative deployment and retrieval capability that will significantly reduce costs for cross-flow design MHK systems, in which a turbine generates power from tides and/or rivers.
“The turbine blades will employ active pitch control to allow for thrust generation in deployment/retrieval mode and higher efficiency in power generation mode. If successful, this project could reduce the cost of the installation process in which ORPC’s turbine could be placed in the water near shore, self-propel to the deployment location, and hold itself in place on the seafloor through redirected downward thrust.”
ORPC President and Chief Executive Officer, Chris Sauer, said the award is a “big deal,” because it will help the company continue to develop alternative power technologies.
“These types of advances are what will make ORPC competitive with natural gas,” he said.
Work on ORPC systems is scheduled for completion by summer 2016 and the company plans to test the turbines in Cobscook Bay by the end of 2017, Sauer said.
The company has also been working on a smaller, river-based turbine project in Alaska and Sauer said he hopes that project will be ready to deliver power by 2018.
DOE has issued 41 ARPA-E grants totaling $125 million.
ARPA-E’s initial $400 million budget was a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. ARPA-E received $180 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, $275 million in FY2012, $251 million in FY2013, and $280 million in both FY2014 and FY2015.