Recently, I posted about a Canadian group that created a helium-filled floating wind turbine. On the opposite side of sea level, a Virgina-based team has installed several underwater turbines in New York’s East River. Posted today on MIT’s Technology Review (a good technology publication btw).

Working from barges and tugboats off New York City’s Roosevelt Island, engineers are battling northeasters and this month’s heavy spring tides to install the first major tidal-power project in the United States. The project involves a set of six submerged turbines that are designed to capture energy from the East River’s tidal currents. The three-bladed turbines, which are five meters in diameter and resemble wind turbines, are made by Verdant Power of Arlington, VA.

Thanks to lessons learned by wind turbine designers, tidal power is already economically competitive, producing electricity at prices similar to wind power, according to feasibility studies by the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry R&D consortium. And it offers a big advantage over wind and other renewables: a precisely predictable source of energy. As a result, developers in the United States have laid claim to the best sites up and down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. In the past four years the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, DC, has issued preliminary permits for tidal installations at 25 sites, and it is considering another 31 applications.

Moving rotors under the sea would seem to threaten environmental impact, but engineers are said to have solved that problem.

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Stay tuned to see where else creative engineers can place turbines.

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