Tidal turbine testing about to start in Massachusetts

After a long development process, the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) will start the first full test of a tidal energy turbine at its Bourne Tidal Test Site in the Cape Cod Canal.

Bourne Tidal Test Site test structure (Courtesy of MRECo)

An unnamed Massachusetts developer will test a scale model of its tidal energy turbine designed to generate power from slower waters, starting from April 12, 2023, MRECo informed.

Once installed on the test stand, the turbine will operate continuously for 30 days.

“The National Renewable Energy Lab, the Department of Energy’s leading research center, estimates that Massachusetts has about 180,000 megawatts of tidal energy available. This is the equivalent of a typical nuclear power plant.

“All we have to do is figure out how to harness that energy and that is what this test site is helping to do. Tidal device developers all over the world are grappling with what is the best configuration of blades, support systems and electronics to harness energy from tidal flows.

“Using the Bourne Tidal Test Site for tidal device and underwater sensor testing will assist US companies and local New England device developers understand how their systems work in an open ocean environment near shore with technical support at a reasonable price,” MRECo said.

The Bourne Tidal Test Site is licensed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and MREC is also applying for a license from the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC) to generate power directly to the grid.

The site was established in November 2017, and is suitable for testing of tidal energy components or turbines of up to three meters in diameter with maximum output of 100kW.

Located near the Buzzards Bay, it forms part of the New England Marine Energy Development System (NEMEDS) which is a network of testing facilities located in around 150-kilometre radius.

These test facilities are expected to help marine energy device designers obtain valuable information that will enable them to scale up and commercialize more efficiently.

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