Renewables, Wind

Massachusetts Might Go With the Tide

Issue 7 and Volume 110.

Massachusetts, currently a battleground over the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm and site of a second proposed offshore wind facility in Buzzards Bay, could eventually be home to a tidal wind generation facility. Vineyard Sound is one of eight sites that Oceana Energy Company would like to have considered for a U.S. tidal energy project.

Oceana has submitted applications for preliminary permits to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and has received a preliminary permit for a tidal energy project in San Francisco Bay.

Daniel Power, Oceana’s president, says his company is looking at several coastal areas in the United States to determine where the best collectable ocean energy exists. Oceana’s proposals are currently the only applications for large-scale tidal energy projects before FERC. If Oceana receives a preliminary permit for the Vineyard Sound project, the company earns the right to study and possibly develop the site for three years.

Oceana’s proposed Massachusetts tidal project would include 50 to 150 tidal in-stream energy conversion units. The machines would have blades about 35 feet in diameter submerged in water up to 75 feet deep. As ocean currents pass through the propellers, each device would generate between 500 kW and 2 MW. Power produced would connect to a transmission cable linking Falmouth, Mass., and Martha’s Vineyard.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has released a study on five possible sites for tidal energy projects off the Massachusetts coast. The study includes the Vineyard Sound site, but did not rank it as the best one studied. The EPRI study names Muskeget Channel, which runs between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Islands, as the best option. – Steve Blankinship