The New York City-based tidal power company Verdant Power has announced plans to install 30 new underwater turbines in the East River as Phase 3 of its Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project. The new installation will be the first tidal project in the U.S. to connect to the national electrical grid.
Phase 1 of the project operated between 2006 and 2008 and involved just six turbines that supplied 70 megawatt hours of power to two NYC businesses. In that experiment, the tips of some of the turbine blades broke off in the strong East River currents, but Verdant claims its next-generation turbine model should be more durable and also cheaper. An analysis of the environmental effects of the turbines (Phase 2) showed no significant impact on fish in the area.
The new 30-turbine system would provide 1 MW of power to the grid, although eventually Verdant hopes to output up to 500 MW. In comparison, the proposed offshore wind project in Long Island Sound would produce 350 MW of power, and a tidal project in the works in Scotland will total 200 MW. Scotland is a world leader in offshore tidal power, which could meet up to 20 percent of the UK’s electricity needs.
The East River project isn’t the only thing Verdant is working on. Notably, the company signed an agreement with China last May about developing tidal there. Given China’s excellent track record on incentives for businesses involved in renewable energy (and the U.S.’s poor one), it only makes sense for Verdant to explore those opportunities.
For the RITE Project and development of its new turbine design, Verdant obtained funding from the Department of Energy, NYSERDA, and the NYC Economic Development Council. If Verdant can clear the remaining regulatory hurdles, it is set to start installing the new turbines in late 2011.