Tidal power holds huge energy, job potential for New Jersey

The tides of the New Jersey shore have enough energy to power 200,000 homes says a new study released by Natural Currents Energy Services, LLC, a company focused on developing tidal power generation. The report identifies 417 MW of tidal power off New Jersey’s coast, which recently rated tidal power as the number-one renewable energy source in their Energy Master Plan.

“At about $5 million per Mega Watt installed, that’s a $2 billion investment opportunity to create jobs and provide clean energy," says Roger Bason, president of the Highland, NY-based company.  “Full installation of systems to harness the tides’ energy would provide over 2,000 jobs in New Jersey for 10 years.”

Over the last 10 years, Bason's company has developed patented designs for tidal turbine systems, which have been tested both onshore and offshore.

The Georgia Tech Research Corporation estimated 357 MW in New Jersey in its nation-wide assessment of tidal power last year. Natural Currents identified additional sites in cooperation with the NJ DOT Office of Research and Office of Maritime Resources.  These sites, including rivers and shoreline locations throughout the state, add at least an additional 60 MW from near shore locations not included in the broad national study by Georgia Tech.

“Tidal energy is clean, renewable, and highly predictable,” says Bason. “If tidal technology is installed along the reach of the shoreline, constant power will be produced as the tides change, unlike the intermittent power from solar and wind." It's that predictability that makes tidal power very attractive to utility companies.

While the overall number of installations is still small, some studies predict a 700% increase in installations over the next five years.

While the future may look bright to tidal energy developers worldwide, the issues of regulation and public acceptance in New Jersey are major factors in the overall speed of ocean renewable growth.

Adding tidal incentives is critical to success, just as it has been for solar energy. At this time, Nova Scotia and UK utilities buy tidal power at rates 7 to 10 times what NJ now offers.

“All tidal energy companies are competing for a place in those markets, just as the solar incentives brought companies from around the world to New Jersey,” says Bason. “To keep pace with the global marketplace and the green jobs that go with it, New Jersey needs tidal incentives for economic growth.”

March 14, 2012