This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 17, 2004

U.S. Firms to Test Ocean Wave, Current, and Thermal Technologies

In recent years, several European companies have led the way in developing new ocean energy technologies, but that may be changing: U.S. firms are heading up three new ocean energy projects. The project developers claim that all three of the projects will provide power to electrical grids.

New Jersey's Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (OPT) has signed an agreement with Spanish utility Iberdola S.A. to build a 1.25-megawatt wave energy plant that will provide power to the Spanish power grid. OPT's device uses a buoy to capture wave energy and convert it into electricity in an ocean-floor-mounted generator. See the OPT announcement and Web site.

Closer to home, the U.S. Navy is working with Florida Hydro Power and Light (FHPL) to test an innovative turbine that captures the energy of ocean currents. The open-centered turbine will be deployed in the Gulf Stream, and the Navy intends to connect it to the Florida power grid. See the announcement from the Naval Surface Division's Carderock Division and visit the FHPL Web site.

But perhaps the biggest surprise comes from U.S. engineering company R.W. Beck, which intends to work with Baltimore's Solar Sea Power International (SSP) to build a 10-megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plant on a Caribbean island by 2007. OTEC plants use the temperature difference between the sun-warmed surface of the ocean and the cold ocean depths to produce power, and can also produce desalinated water as a byproduct. DOE research in OTEC technology culminated in a 50-kilowatt OTEC plant in Hawaii in the early 1990s. R.W. Beck and SSP will detail their plans at the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Power conference in Baltimore in late March. See the R.W. Beck announcement, the SSP Web site, and the ASME Power Web site.

Archived information about DOE's OTEC research program is available on the Web site of DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.