In January of 2012, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission awarded the first ever license for a tidal-energy project to New York-based Verdant Power. This allows the company to simultaneously monitor the financial feasibility and environmental effects of their 1,050-kilowatt turbine installation, which is being installed in the East River near Roosevelt Island. Known as the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, it’s expected to utilize five turbines to supply power to nearly 10,000 people within the next year.
“This is the perfect testing ground,” said Dean Corren, Verdant’s director of technology, especially with the current running as fast as 2 meters per second. If the testing goes according to plan, the system will provide approximately 1 megawatt of power at capacity – while that’s very small portion of energy demand in New York City, the potential to scale up such a project could represent a major step for renewable energy.
If their three-blade Free Flow System turbines are successful in capturing the power of the East River’s tides, it seems likely that the current plan for 30 generators by 2015 could grow to accommodate a greater capacity. Owner Trey Taylor sees the potential of this technology growing into major part of life in the city, confidently claiming, “New York City could be the first city with tidal-powered cars.” According to Verdant Power, this represents the first grid-connected system of tidal turbines in the world.