Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused. Continue reading

Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused.

Now, in the United States, offshore wind farms could be a promising energy resource. Many large oil corporations have invested in wind energy and Google says their data centers and offices will be completely run on renewable energy in 2017. Continue reading

Low Density Tidal Energy Arrays Minimize Impact

by Cassandra Burgess

The configuration of a tidal energy array partially determines the level of environmental impact. In determining the optimal configuration for a particular area, it is important to consider not only power output, but also environmental impacts. Fallon, et al. discuss the impacts of a tidal energy array located in Ireland in their 2014 paper. They use a two dimensional model and average speeds over the depth of the channel. This simplifies the modeling process, but it also overestimates some of the impacts. They then analyze grid spacing for turbines, with turbines spaced 0.5, 2, and 5 times their diameters apart. The model indicated that the 5 diameter spacing had the least environmental impact. It decreased velocities by 19.9% less than the 0.5 diameter spacing outside the grid, and increased flood velocities by 27.3% less. The 5 diameter spacing also changed the tidal range of heights by only 1% while the 0.5 diameter changed them by 6.4%. Because the 5 diameter spacing has significantly less impact on the hydrodynamic environment around the turbines, the authors conclude that it is desirable to use low density arrays when possible. Continue reading

Clean Current Utilizes Marine Tidal Turbines to Produce Renewable Energy

by Mariah Valerie Barber

Clean Current Power Systems Incorporated is a private company based in British Columbia that focuses on hydrokinetic power generation. Specializing in marine energy engineering, Clean Current was the first company to use a tidal turbine or marine turbine energy. Clean Current’s tidal turbine utilizes the same basic framework used by the standard river in-stream turbine, only the company has incorporated bi-directional technology that allows the turbine to change directions automatically depending on the movement and direction of the tides. Clean Current’s tidal turbines are predicted to last up to 25 years and are able to be placed in marine areas from 7 to 25 meters in depth. Continue reading

Fish Behavior near Tidal Energy Turbines

by Cassandra Burgess

Any man-made structure in a marine environment has the potential to impact the organisms living there. Previous research has shown that fish actively avoid trawlers and boats, and that abandoned oil platforms often become a place for fish to congregate. It has yet to be determined how fish will react to the presence of tidal energy generators. This may be an important design consideration. Vietnam and Zydlewski (2014) conducted research on fish behavior at a turbine in Cobscook Bay, Maine. This bay is known for high biodiversity, and provided the chance to study a range of fish species. The study found that over 50 percent of the fish they monitored in the area interacted with the turbine in some way, and that 34.8 percent were observed to enter or exit the turbine during the 22 hours study. They also found large fish (greater than 10 cm in length) were more likely to avoid the turbine at night than small fish. At night small fish had only a 0.002 probability of avoiding the turbine, while large fish had a probability of 0.109 of doing so. Continue reading