Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has submitted its second annual environmental monitoring report for the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The report details environmental data collected during the operation of ORPC’s grid-connected TidGen® Power System in Maine and concludes that no known adverse impacts were evidenced by the project’s comprehensive environmental monitoring program in 2013.
“ORPC is doing ground breaking environmental monitoring which will pave the way for other marine hydrokinetic (MHK) project developers in the U.S.,” said Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition President, Sean O’Neill. “This work is critical to the successful commercialization of the MHK industry.”
“The Cobscook Bay TidGen® Power System Project has provided more great learning experiences during which we’ve continued to develop best management practices that will be applied to this and future projects,” said Chris Sauer, ORPC’s President & CEO. “We are very grateful to the resource agency members of our adaptive management team for their guidance and collaboration.”
During operation of the TidGen® System in 2013, ORPC collected significant performance and environmental interaction data. In addition to a sustained period of energy generation, ORPC accomplished successful maintenance-related retrievals and redeployments of the TidGen® turbine generator unit (TGU). Per federal licensing and funding requirements, the TidGen® TGU underwent a detailed inspection of its components in the summer of 2013, resulting in the charting of a TidGen® optimization program which the U.S. Department of Energy has invested in through awards for the advancement of ORPC’s power takeoff technology and turbine control mechanisms.
FERC requires licensees such as ORPC to develop adaptive management plans for their projects, which provide guidelines for evaluating environmental monitoring data and making informed, science-based decisions to modify monitoring as necessary. The goal of such a plan is to maintain appropriate levels of environmental monitoring proportional to project risk. Federal and state resource agencies continue to collaborate with ORPC on the Project’s Adaptive Management Team and provide oversight on the plan.
Through this process, ORPC has requested reductions in frequency of monitoring surveys based on increased knowledge of species presence and environmental effects, and FERC has accepted these changes thus decreasing ORPC’s cost and effort associated with its environmental monitoring efforts.
“ORPC’s adaptive management approach serves to mitigate uncertainties that exist today and build confidence among key stakeholders, supporting tidal energy advancement,” said Elisa Obermann, Atlantic Director, Marine Renewables Canada. “This is a valuable model and contribution that will undoubtedly benefit the emerging industry.”
ORPC says that it anticipates continuing to build its knowledge base of fisheries and marine life interaction with its power systems through two projects in 2014. The OCGen® Module Mooring Project in Maine will demonstrate a prototype of ORPC’s floating turbine technology and associated anchoring system. This has the potential to be a significant advancement in marine hydrokinetic technology and deployment procedures that will also reduce potential environmental effects. The RivGen® Power System Commercialization Project in the Kvichak River at Igiugig, Alaska, presents a unique opportunity to gather fisheries interaction data in a shallow, clear water environment.
ORPC’s 2013 Environmental Monitoring Report is available on the company’s website.
Press release, April 16, 2014; Image: ORPC