The U.S. government is pumping $16 million into projects aimed at producing energy from ocean waves, currents and tides.
The Energy Department said last week that the money will help American companies build wave and tidal devices that cut costs and increase the amount of energy captured. Components and software will be developed, and environmental data will be gathered and analyzed.
The money will fund seventeen projects. Texas A&M University is involved in a project led by Swiss power technologies company ABB, Inc., which will receive $2 million from the Energy Department to build a compact direct-drive generator and demonstrate its viability in a wave energy device by Resolute Marine Energy. The goal is to produce a generator 50 percent smaller than a traditional direct-drive generator, the Energy Department said.
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The Obama Administration argues that wave and tidal energy is an untapped resource that is clean and renewable and should be expanded as part of the U.S. energy mix.
Last year, the Energy Department forecast that water power could provide 15 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030. It said that the West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, have especially high potential for wave energy development, while significant opportunities also exist along the East Coast, which have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.
Limited survivability of equipment, high operational costs, less widespread than waves
Slack intervals, high capital costs, limited to a handful of sites worldwide, major environmental impacts
Variable intensity, limited survivability of equipment, navigation and sea-space concerns, release of lubricants
Limited number of sites, potential impact on ocean circulation patterns