On September 13, 2012, we experienced another smart grid first: Bangor Hydro Electric Company’s grid received electricity from Ocean Renewable Power Company’s (ORPC’s) Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project. According to the press release, this is currently the only non-dam-based ocean energy project that delivers power to a utility grid anywhere in North, Central or South America! Additionally, in the United States, it is the first time power from any ocean energy project including offshore wind, wave and tidal was delivered to the electric utility grid. Below is a picture of the turbine before it was placed on the ocean floor.
ORPC received FERC approval in February 2012 to install turbine generator units on the ocean floor and operate the project for eight years. The Cobscook Bay Project will use the tidal currents of Cobscook Bay to generate electricity via cross-flow Kinetic System turbine generator units (TGUs) mounted on the sea floor. ORPC Maine’s TidGen™ Power System will capture energy from the flow of the tide. Like all smart pilots, the initial scope is limited. The project will initially produce 180 kilowatts at peak, enough to power 25-30 homes. After running and monitoring this initial system for a year, ORPC plans to install additional power systems over the next three years to increase the project’s output to 5 megawatts -enough electricity to power 1,200 Maine homes and businesses with tidal energy. The ability for a project like this to connect to the electric grid is what the smart grid is all about.