Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

samedi 14 août 2004

In the third stage of a project which started in January 2003, Verdant Power, a small energy company, will install six electricity turbines into New York's East River. These turbines will only deliver 200 kilowatts of power. This will be the world's first farm of tide-powered turbines, according to Nature. And the company already plans to populate the tidal basin with several other hundred turbine units in the years to come, with a goal of 5 to 10 installed megawatts within three years. The next step will be to install other farms in the US and in developing countries. The company plans to be present in ten sites by 2007. However, it will still be a very small company in the energy business, with a projected revenue of $37 million in 2007.

Here are some details from the Nature story.

Verdant Power, an energy company based in Arlington, Virginia, plans to plunge six electricity turbines into the East River. If the $4.5-million project is successful, the generators will form the first farm of tide-powered turbines in the world.
The plan is to attach the machines, which look like small wind turbines, to concrete piles hammered into the bedrock nine metres below the river's surface. As the tide surges in and out, the heads pivot to face the current and the blades spin.
Verdant Power turbines Here is a sketch of the field of turbines that would rest on the East River's floor (Credit: Verdant Power).

And here are more details about the current status of the East River's project.

The project is a modest one in electricity terms: the suite of turbines will generate just 200 kilowatts of power at their peak, enough to power perhaps 200 houses. Initially, the energy will be used to run some lights and machinery in a local supermarket and parking garage, avoiding the expense of transmission cables.
But if everything goes according to plan, company president Trey Taylor says he hopes to grow the field to 200-300 turbines stretched along the river. The UN headquarters in Manhattan is among those who have expressed interest in tapping into the environmentally friendly energy that would be produced by the project, he says.
Verdant Power installation on East River This is a map of the field is approximately 1 mile long by 270 feet wide, and 30 to 40 feet deep. It will be populated with several hundred turbine units, mounted on mono-piles affixed to the bottom of the tidal basin. Verdant Power expects to complete this $20 million East River project, including power conditioning and grid connection, within four years. Subsequent sites will be developed in less than one year. (Credit: Verdant Power).

The Nature article also mentions Verdant Power's competitors in Europe, such as Hammerfest Strøm in Norway or Marine Current Turbines Ltd in the U.K. But the article doesn't mention a deployment in Scotland I wrote about in "The Heavyweight Sea Snail" in April 2004.

For more information, you can read this page about the Instream Energy Generation Technology (IEGT) -- also called free-flow hydropower technology or kinetic hydro energy systems -- generate electricity from the kinetic energy present in flowing water.

You also can check this page about the East River project or a presentation given at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Industry Growth Forum, Austin, Texas, on November 17-19, 2003, "Free-flow Hydropower Systems" (PDF format, 21 pages, 953 KB)

Sources: Helen Pearson, Nature, August 13, 2004; Verdant Power website; National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

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