Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ocean Energy Surges in 2005

On January 14, 2005, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) issued a report that claimed that ocean generated electricity may be feasible in the very near future. This represented a significant step for wave technology as EPRI's membership comprises many of the nation's largest electric utilities which have had little interest in renewables in the past.

In April 2005, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), agreed to provide limited waivers from licensing to Verdant Power, developer of the nation's first hydrokinetic project in the East River, New York, so that it could install six project units and provide power to customers in order to test the project's capabilities in real-world conditions.

Both FERC and the Department of Energy have tried to explore ways to streamline permitting for hydrokinetic technologies in rivers, streams and oceans. In April 2005, at the behest of the National Hydropower Association, FERC convened a meeting of small hydro and ocean developers, resource agency representatives and other stakeholders to figure out how to expedite permitting without compromising environmental protection.

In February and March 2005 FERC issued several preliminary permits to two different companies to study tidal energy sites in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Florida. Also, the AquaEnergy Group, located in Washington state, continued to advance through the licensing process for its proposed Makah Bay Project, which will be located in the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary in the Makah Bay off the coast of Washington state.

Ocean technologies continued to advance beyond the United States as well. In May 2005, Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) announced a deal with an electric company in Portugal to construct the world's first commercial wave farm. The 2.25 MW project will be comprised of three of OPD's distinctive, orange sausage-shaped, Pelamis units. And in December 2005, Marine Current Technologies announced that it had received additional funding of 2 million pounds for its SeaGen project, which that same month obtained approval needed to move forward with deployment.

It was quite a year for new initiatives in wave power.


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