|WW Turbine's protoype en route to testing before |
its use in Vancouver, BC.
fishing resort company. Water Well claims this one turbine can cut the lodge's electricity price by more than 75%.
Another small-scale project yielding intriguing results is the Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Company. ORPC just recently received the Outstanding Stewards' of America's Waters award for its successful demonstration of its RivGen technology in the small Inuit community of Igiugig, Alaska. The RivGen is a small system that is, according to tidalenergytoday.org
|ORPC's RivGen tidal turbines in Alaska.|
Over the course of two summers, ORPC set up the RivGen in the waters of the Kvichak River and accumulated data of its maintenance, durability, and output. The results were extremely promising: the tidal power source produced a third of electricity needed to sustain the small village of 70 people. Considering the RivGen consists of two turbines 34 feet in width combined, supported by pontoons, the cost-efficiency alone is worth further investment.
"a 25 kW self-deploying submersible hydrokinetic system designed to reduce and stabilize the cost of power in remote communities located near rivers and tidal estuaries that currently use diesel fuel for power generation."
While these two projects prove comprehensive efforts to integrate tidal energy into everyday communities are happening, they also prove the lack of consistent funding. In the case of ORPC, the state grants that matched private funds are currently on the chopping block in Alaska's upcoming budget. Furthermore, while WW Turbine's technology will be closely looked at by public utilities, BC Hydro still takes an official position that tidal energy infrastructure is not cost-effective, nor promising enough for mass investment. While that may be accurate on a large scale, the key to addressing it may be to, indeed, think smaller.
Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.