Industry News

MRECo Funded for First U.S. Tidal Test Site

The Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) has received funding from the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council to develop a tidal energy test site in the Cape Cod Canal. As a fixed test structure, the Bourne Tidal Test Site (BTTS) would be the first permanent test stand for tidal energy in the United States.

 

The Seaport Economic Council was established by the Baker Administration to provide funding for projects that will improve the economies of the 78 seaport communities. BTTS will benefit Bourne by making it a center for tidal energy development and, in particular, increasing business in the Buzzards Bay district, adjacent to the test site.

MRECo Executive Director, John Miller, said, “BTTS will allow anyone seeking to develop tidal devices a place to test inexpensively which will spur development of new technologies for this industry.”

He explained that early demonstrations done for ocean energy devices have used up to 70% of their funding for permitting, an issue this project addresses head on.

“No one wants to put new technology into the ocean without being mindful of environmental impacts and so far the impact of tidal turbines has been minimal. But BTTS will reduce the time and cost for testing in ocean conditions, while monitoring for unexpected consequences. This will allow the huge intellectual capital located in private industry and within the many educational institutions in New England to have the ability to get their devices into the water at a fraction of the cost, accelerating commercialization.”

BTTS is a uniquely suited location for tidal testing. Most devices require 4 knots of water velocity to be effective and BTTS gets up to 7 knots.

The water in the canal has relatively low turbulence or wave action, and the site is close enough to shore to allow devices to be installed by crane, again lowering risk and cost. Managed by MRECo, this site will be available to qualified entities. The site will be equipped to provide power monitoring, electrical loads, and a full sensor suite for hydrokinetic and environmental monitoring.

BTTS will be permitted and the test structure will be installed by the end of 2016. It will be a welcome addition to a suite of other facilities in New England that can provide testing infrastructure allowing developers the opportunity to test their devices in a variety of sizes and flow rates.

“We hope turbine technology tested here will be scaled up for Edgartown's tidal project in Muskeget Channel,” stated John Miller.

Currently, MRECo has an agreement with the US Geological Survey (USGS) fish testing facility at Turner’s Falls to manage tidal testing in flumes that can accommodate turbines of up to 1 meter diameter in water flows of 4 knots. Other sites are under consideration for development.

For more information about this project and about the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative click here.

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