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Power United States

Obama Administration Tests the Waters With Ocean Power Startups 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the wave-of-the-future dept.
Stirfry192 sends this excerpt from an article discussing the Obama Administration's funding of renewable energy projects that are experimenting with hydrokinetics: "Currently, the Department of Energy has a mandate to spend $50 million a year on backing such research. For its part, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved 72 permits for pilot projects over the past two years , according to its records. Ocean Renewable Energy Power Company, LLC , which has plans to build the largest ocean-based system in the U.S., is one of the companies that has won such funding. ... Virtually all hydrokinetic turbines resemble giant manual lawnmowers, a design patented by Alexander Gorlov of Northeastern University in 2001. [CEO Chris Sauer] calls what his company uses an 'advance cross-flow' model, and he says each of his 150 kilowatt units could power 50 to 75 homes. ... The company plans to install one of its 150 kilowatt turbines this year, and four next year, anchoring them near the floor of the bay, and progressively build out to 3.2 megawatts by 2014. The system would tie into Bangor Hydro Electric Co. grid."
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Obama Administration Tests the Waters With Ocean Power Startups

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  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:36PM (#36852848)

    Fission is not something the free market will invest in. They never have. So far it has taken government backed loans and government provided insurance just to get the plants we have. I think it is a great source of power, but he free market seem to disagree.

    They only carry $375 Million in insurance on the plants and the Price-Anderson act covers over that. This act is so anti-free market that it moves civil suits to federal jurisdiction and no claimant can get punitive damages.

  • Re:Biofouling (Score:5, Informative)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Friday July 22, 2011 @09:06PM (#36853840)

    Original poster here. I'm an oceanographer -- a physicist, not an ocean engineer, but I've talked with enough marine engineers to know about the issues. Designing instruments that operate unattended for long periods of time in the ocean without getting covered with barnacles, slime, worms, algae, and all manner of crap is one of the big unsolved problems in our field. Our best solution to the problem is to minimize the number of moving parts, and to keep most of the equipment well below the photic zone (the sunlit shallows where most of the life hangs out). Neither of these is possible for a hydrokinetic marine turbine.

    (Random anecdote: another problem we have is that devices that carry electric current tend to get attacked by sharks, which have delicate electrosensory organs, so cables need special anti-shark armor.)

    Another commenter mentioned corrosion: that's fairly easy to deal with using a sacrificial anode (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_anode). But biofouling is a lot harder to deal with. I'm willing to believe that the designers of this system have a solution, but only after they've successfully operated a turbine for several years without problems.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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