Company studying tidal power in Cook Inlet  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The Kenai Peninsula Clarion has an article on interest in developing tidal power in Alaska - A new wave of energy: Company studying tidal power in Cook Inlet.

As the liquified natural gas plant in Nikiski prepares for its final shipments, a tidal power company is preparing to begin collecting environmental data in the same area.

Ocean Renewable Power Company received a permit to begin studying the area last week. Tuesday, it held a meeting at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association building to discuss its Cook Inlet projects with Kenai Peninsula residents. Eventually, the company wants to capture hydrokinetic energy for Alaskans to use.

Company President and CEO Christopher Sauer said hydrokinetic means using the motion of the water to create energy.

Just who would buy the power is still an unknown, although Sauer said it is likely that the company would sell some of their turbines and also deploy some to sell the resulting electricity. ORPC sees its potential buyers as railbelt utility companies or even oil platforms that are currently using diesel to generate electricity, Sauer said.

But that is a few years out. Right now, the company has a permit to establish baseline environmental data. Essentially, it wants to see how fish and whales use the area, said Monty Worthington, the company's project development director.

Ocean Renewable Power has three years to do that work -- and then they'll receive priority in applying for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit for a pilot project, Worthington said.

Bob Shavelson, from the Homer-based environmental organization Cook Inletkeeper, said the permitting process would likely be tough for the company.

Worthington said the company was trying to find the best location to get a project permitted. That project would be on a small-scale, to see if it's feasible to do a larger project in the area, Worthington said. If the company sees that beluga are incompatible with the technology, there's no project he said.

Last spring, the Maine-based company began similar work at a Fire Island site in the north Cook Inlet. Worthington said that bulk of that work is done. Now they're largely focused on the Nikiski site, called East Forelands.

The Cook Inlet is ideal for tidal power for a number of reasons, Worthington said. Most simply, there's a lot of power. More importantly, that power is close to the railbelt utility grid, where electricity is needed.

The Nikiski location has its own perks. In that area, the ocean has about the right amount of energy for the technology Ocean Renewable Power has developed.

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