Tidal Power Almost Ready for Prime Time - NBC New York

Tidal Power Almost Ready for Prime Time



    Meet Four Inspiring Kids Tackling Cancer

    Even as the latest experimental tidal turbine is about to be placed in New Jersey's Shrewsbury River this summer, a Top Twenty list of tidal power sites across the state is in the works.

    A small start-up firm, Natural Currents Energy Services, is teaming up with City College of NY(CCNY) to find the best sites in the coastal waters of New Jersey to place the turbines, two of which are slated for later this year on the Manasquan River.

    But before those go in and well before the study can be completed, Natural Currents will place a demonstration turbine this summer on the Shrewsbury right below the Route 36 bridge in Highlands, according to company president and founder Roger Bason.

    "Our goal is to better understand the potential for tidal energy generation along the coastline and the technologies that are best suited to harness the power of existing tidal currents," Bason explained.

    CCNY Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Dr. Hansong Tang, will use computer modeling to help develop the Top Twenty list in a state that may have more potential for tidal power than California, according to Bason.

    "Water has to be sufficient depth, and the tide has to be of sufficient speed," said Bason for the turbines he has designed to produce maximum electricity for the grid, and to serve the most people efficiently.

    The effort to bring tidal power to the Tri-State is not without pitfalls.

    An earlier effort by a different company in the East River of New York City had multiple problems.(Natural Currents has a $990,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to place a 'renewable energy park' on the south shore of Ward's Island in the East River, in the Hell Gate channel which is notorious for its swift currents. No date has been set for that yet, according to Bason.)

    Bason said his effort is under close scrutiny from the various government agencies with permitting power over his installations.

    "National Marine Fisheries gave us an 8 page letter to add to our checklist," he explained.

    But he said the New Jersey DEP was "surprisingly straight forward and practical."

    The 18 month study with CCNY is funded by a $260,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the University Transportation Research Center based at CCNY.

    It will focus on a particular characteristic of tidal, or hydrokinetic energy, according to a company news release.

    Natural Currents said a current's kinetic energy is related to its speed cubed.

    The company explained that means "a tide stream moving twice as fast as another tide stream of equal volume would generate eight times as much energy as the slower flow."

    Natural Currents quotes the Union of Concerned Scientists website as claiming that nationwide, tidal turbines "could feasibly produce enough power for more than 67 million homes."

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY