Recession or not – tidal power continues to progress


Ocean power has suffered some setbacks recently, such as Pelamis’ bellyflop in Portugal and the UK’s WaveHub losing a developer, but the industry isn’t slowing down — in fact, it’s been a busy month for tidal technology. While there are only a small number of wave or tidal power projects in oceans and rivers right now, and large-scale projects remain a few years away, the race is on for companies hoping to get a first-mover’s advantage.

Alstom jumped into the tidal game this week when it teamed up with Clean Current Power Systems, and Verdant Power said earlier this month that it has moved closer to expanding its New York project. And developers of the Bay of Fundy site in Canada, which will include a turbine from Clean Current, are busy setting the stage for the first turbine to go in the water this fall.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Clean Current now has a big-name partner in its corner, which could give it a leg up over the competition. France’s Alstom, a major railroad and power infrastructure company is getting an exclusive worldwide license to Clean Current’s technology for ocean power applications, and plans to commercialize its first tidal power products by 2012. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but Alstom is not taking an equity stake in Clean Current as part of the deal…

Ocean power is likely to face some more bumps on the road to commercialization — the more projects that are in the water, the more chances there will be for kinks to show up in the technology — but if this pace continues, there could be plenty of momentum to keep things going forward.

Overdue. Like so many alternatives within the fossil fuel-based economy, engineers and scientists have had these ideas for decades – and no financial backers. Not that various governments encouraged the work either. They stayed comfortably in the pockets of the old economy.

Glad to see tidal projects getting a boost. Anyone like me who grew up in a coastal environment – especially if you fished for sustenance – knows firsthand the power of tides. Transforming motion and mass into energy ain’t exactly rocket science. But, rocket scientists always had the budget.

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