Today, Mike Reed, the Water Power Team Lead for the U.S. Department of Energy’s ("DOE") Wind & Water Power Program, announced a new resource to help developers assess the quality of the tidal energy resource along the coast of the United States.
Called the "Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States," the online database was developed at Georgia Tech’s Center for Geographic Information Systems, in cooperation with (and with the help of grant funding from) the DOE. The interactive map provides unprecedented visualization, allowing users to zoom and pan over maps of color-coded information on water depth, mean current speed, and the available kinetic power density of tidal streams along the entire coastline. However, developers should note that the assessment does not include (1) any assumptions about technology or (2) any flow field effects from energy extraction. In other words, the tidal stream database provides excellent data for initial, "big picture" site assessment, but developers will still need to conduct their own site-specific studies using acoustic doppler current profilers ("ADCPs") and similar technologies to get the micrositing data necessary to optimize device performance.
As of today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") has issued 27 preliminary permits for tidal energy projects and 2 additional preliminary permit applications are pending. In December 2010, Verdant Power submitted a Final License Application to FERC for its Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy ("RITE") project in New York’s East River (Docket No. P-12611). If Verdant’s pilot license application is approved, it will be the first FERC-licensed tidal energy project in the United States.
The image to the right is of Delhaven Wharf in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, where the ebb and flow of the world’s strongest tides leave fishing boats stranded when the tide runs out.