When it is placed in the water next month, Ocean Renewable Power Co.’s underwater Turbine Generator Unit (TGU), designed to harness tidal power in Cobscook Bay near Eastport, Maine, will have a capacity rating of 60 kilowatts, making it the largest ocean energy device deployed in U.S. waters. In less than a month, the TGU should be providing power to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Eastport. "Energy Tide 2" has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power 20 homes.
Although this is not much power, it is an important first step commercializing tidal power in the U.S. In a year or so from now, Ocean Renewable could have a 1-megawatt, stackable module of turbines off Eastport. Hooked to the Bangor Hydro-Electric grid, it could generate enough clean power at peak tidal flows to light more than 300 homes. That could lead to an expanded project with more modules and more output. If the technology can be refined to extract power from slower currents, and Ocean Renewable can win the needed regulatory permits, there may be enough good underwater sites around Eastport to install units with a total capacity of 100 megawatts.