Florida Tidal Turbine Leases Granted for Testing

A new five year lease agreement has been signed between researchers from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The purpose of the agreement is to allow testing of small-scale ocean tidal turbines to be undertaken by FAU.

Multiple Test Berths

As per the agreement it will now be possible to install multiple test berths on the outer continental shelf 13 miles offshore from Broward County. This gives the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) of FAU the chance to deploy turbine prototypes up to 100kW in generating capacity from vessels moored in the Gulf Stream.

Small Scale Current Turbine

The turbine test site in question has been the object of attention by the SNMREC since 2007. Tests that have been carried out earlier in 2014 emphasised the need for this type of test site with a small-scale turbine put through its paces in tow tests.

To be specific, the terms of the lease is to specifically authorise three single-anchor mooring systems attached to mooring and telemetry buoys (MTB)

Five Year Lease Agreement

The signing of the five year lease agreement means the world’s first offshore test berth for small-scale ocean current turbines will be possible.

“This is the first time a lease has been issued to test ocean current energy equipment in federal waters,” BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank said. “The Gulf Stream contains a tremendous amount of energy, and this technology offers exciting potential to expand the nation’s renewable energy portfolio.”

An environmental review has been conducted and it was started in May 2011. It has concluded that the project would have ‘no significant impact’ on the area.

Goals of the Testing Area

The installation of these experimental devices as well as the related infrastructure is to:

  1. evaluate the effects of operating marine hydrokinetic devices on environment and resources
  2. demonstrate technology needs for further MHK development
  3. develop methodologies to perform the tests safely and responsibly
  4. develop and refine the tools that allow performance and effects of technologies to be monitored

All of this potential testing that can now take place in the Gulf Stream with the help of almost US$20 million in funding that has come from the Department of Energy, the state of Florida and private companies.

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