Home » Orkney tidal power firm to work on US pilot project

Orkney tidal power firm to work on US pilot project

by Mark Cantrell
A company looking to deliver the first tidal energy generation project in US waters has confirmed Orbital Marine Power (OMP) as its technology partner.

A company looking to deliver the first tidal energy generation project in US waters has confirmed Orbital Marine Power (OMP) as its technology partner.

Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) is one of two organisations shortlisted by the Water Power Technologies Office of the United States’ Department of Energy to explore the feasibility of tidal generation.

OPALCO’s proposed site is off Blakely Island in Rosario Strait in the San Juan Islands, Washington State, where it hopes to float one of OMP’s Orbital O2 floating tidal energy turbines.

The Rosario Strait was identified as a viable site with strong tidal flows in proximity to OPALCO infrastructure for interconnection, with minimal environmental impacts.

It has received $6m funding for tidal energy research, and the development of a demonstration pilot site. Over the next 10 months, the OPALCO team says it will be engaging with stakeholders, conducting technical feasibility, and initiate permitting activities.

At the end of the grant term, only one of the two organisations will be funded to move forward with development of a full project.

OPALCO has aleady completed initial grant funded research for this project, including engagement with tribes and regulatory agencies, tidal flow studies, and environmental impacts.

Foster Hildreth, OPALCO’s general manager, said:“Our exploration into tidal energy could help balance the local renewable generation, and help keep the lights on when the sun goes down, and the wind doesn’t blow.”

OMP has been operating its tidal generator in the Orkney Islands of Scotland for the last two years, in conditions OPALCO says is “very similar” to those in the Salish Sea, where it hopes to establish a generating facility.

If it goes on to become the organisation chosen at the end of the 10-month pilot process, OPALCO proposes deployment of an Orbital O2 floating tidal energy turbine in Rosario Strait.

Andrew Scott, OMP’s chief executive, said: “It’s positive to see OPALCO reaching this stage in an important funding process, and for their proposals to be firmly based on the deployment of Orbital technology. Whilst there is still substantial work to be done before we float our technology in US waters, this milestone underlines growing global appetite for the pioneering progress we are demonstrating in the floating tidal stream space.”

Hildreth added: “There are no single or simple solutions for figuring out the complexities of our future energy supply in a decarbonised world. OPALCO is exploring all possible technologies to build reliable, sustainable and carbon-free resources to meet the energy needs of San Juan County. Floating tidal stream energy, as delivered by the Orbital O2, is one of those technologies that could make sense for our islanded territory.”


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