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Maine Maritime wants to create tidal energy testing center

Feb 14, 2007 The Associated Press

Maine Maritime Academy wants to establish a tidal power test facility in the waters of the Bagaduce River.

Officials submitted a formal application for a preliminary, three-year permit to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week.

Maine Maritime Academy, which plans to collaborate with Cianbro Corp. and other partners, wants to create a place to test and evaluate different tidal energy technologies, said Leonard Tyler, the academy's president.

"This is a way in which we can expand our service as an educational resource, by providing a means to inexpensively and efficiently test the feasibility of renewable energy devices in Maine and other places," he said.

There's growing interest in tidal energy. Last year, the Electric Power Research Institute concluded that the tidal movement at three sites, including one in Maine, can produce electricity at a cost that competes with wind power and natural gas-powered power plants.

If the Bagaduce River project is approved, the Tidal Energy Device Evaluation Center would be only the second such facility in the world.

In addition to Maine Maritime and Cianbro, partners include Marinas Power of Houston, which develops and finances renewable energy technologies, and OceanWorks International, a Canadian company that designs and manufactures underwater work systems.

The center would test tidal energy devices that generally are being developed by small private companies and academic institutions that have limited resources, said Mark Cote, chairman of Maine Maritime's engineering department.

It also would look at the impact of the technology on marine life, Cote said.

"We believe that this is an environmentally friendly technology and that there will be minimal impact to the river," he said.



Updated: 2003/07/28