June 27, 2011 - licensed hydrokinetic energy projects

Monday, June 27, 2011

As we've looked at hydrokinetic power production -- generating electricity from the power contained in water moving as waves, tides, currents, or river flows -- we've seen how federal regulation fits into the development process.  Most hydrokinetic projects need approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: a preliminary permit to study a site and reserve priority for filing a license application, a license itself, or an exemption from licensing.

To date, FERC has issued only two licenses for hydrokinetic projects, with two more license applications pending.  Of the two issued licenses, only one -- the Hastings, Minnesota project on the Mississippi River -- is in operation.  The Hastings project, P-4306, came online in 2009 as the country's first federally-licensed hydrokinetic project.  The license authorizes Hastings to install and operate two 100 kW turbines mounted on a barge, one of which is operational and produces about 35 kW of power on average.  The barge is anchored in the outflow of the Army Corps of Engineers’ existing 4.4 MW Lock & Dam 2, increasing the total hydropower produced at the site without modifying the dam.

The other project license was issued in 2007 for the 1.0 MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot Project in the Pacific Ocean about 2 miles offshore of Washington.  That 5-year license was intended to allow the developer to demonstrate the potential of wave energy conversion power plants to provide economic and environmental benefits to coastal communities.  Two years later, before the project had broken ground, licensee Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy, Ltd. filed an application to surrender its license.  In the surrender application, Finavera noted that the project had become uneconomic given the economic climate and limited capital.  FERC accepted the license surrender in 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment