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Harvesting the Tides of the Bay of Fundy

Experimental efforts are being made to harness the extreme currents off Maine's coast, as underwater tidal energy turbines could soon generate power for nearby homes and businesses.
August 12, 2012, 7am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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Helix-shaped turbines will soon be lowered into the water off the coast of Maine. Designed to harness the immense energy potential of tidal flows, the turbines are part of an experimental project aimed at testing the ability to generate electricity underwater. Similar to wind turbines, the tidal turbines will turn as water flows over them. But, unlike wind turbines, tides can be predicted. And, in the Bay of Fundy, where the project is to be located, the turbines will have access to some of the strongest tides in the world.

The New York Times' Jess Bidgood reports on the project, "[i]t is an experimental, expensive and promising project, fueled by the knowledge...that the tides here are both powerful and predictable." Costing around $21 million, "[w]hen this project starts delivering electricity to the grid under a power-purchasing agreement, it will be the first tidal-power turbine to do so in the United States, says Steven G. Chalk, the deputy assistant secretary for renewable energy," reports Bidgood. "The first turbine generator unit has a maximum output of 180 kilowatts, which would power about 30 homes."

When completed in 2016, the project could power up to 1,500 homes.

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Published on Thursday, August 9, 2012 in The New York Times
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