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August 23, 2010

Coast Guard crews change tide of energy consumption

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England (SNNE) crews will partner with Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) members to demonstrate what is described as "the nation's most robust tidal energy program" at an August 24 event at Coast Guard Station Eastport, Maine.

Main Governor John Baldacci, Congressman Mike Michaud and Capt. James McPherson, SNNE's commander, will celebrate the first-ever successful implementation of tidal energy at a federal facility.

Massive tidal ranges in the ocean waters surrounding Eastport are some of the largest in the country, rising and falling over 20 feet. The Coast Guard's Research and Development Center (RDC), located in New London, Conn., and SNNE collaborated with Ocean Renewable Power Company to commission the first ever use of a tidal energy generator.

The 60 kW tidal turbine was launched in March for testing and is the largest ocean tidal energy generator in the United States. The turbine generator unit (TGU) is set in a steel-composite frame and is deployed from one of ORPC's research vessels, the Energy Tide 2, in Cobscook Bay.

The unit utilizes advanced design cross-flow turbines to drive the generator and the electricity produced will charge a set of battery modules housed in the Energy Tide 2.

The generator was recently re-deployed following several upgrades and began providing clean, grid-compatible electricity to Coast Guard Station Eastport's 41-foot Utility Boat on Aug. 18, 2010. The TGU will also be involved in a concurrent project to test an active acoustic monitoring system that identifies marine life and debris in the vicinity of the turbine.

"The tidal generator is a pioneering concept in the field of renewable energy," said Captain McPherson. "The fact that this prototype is successfully producing power gives us the sense that this project has unlimited potential for not only Coast Guard facilities, but for the United States."


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