Tiny Turbines To Tap Tidal Power in New York’s East River

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October 22, 2020

Verdant Power’s tidal turbines for the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project make their way down the East River in New York City, New York. Photo courtesy Verdant Energy

By Will Wade (Bloomberg) — New York’s East River is set to become the testing ground for a technology that generates electricity from the tides.

Verdant Power, a New York-based marine energy technology company, is installing three small underwater turbines in the river Thursday that will feed power to Consolidated Edison Inc.’s grid.

“We want to prove we have the basis of a commercial, standard system that can be scaled, ” Verdant Chief Executive Officer John Banigan said in an interview.

Marine energy has been around for years, but its adoption has been stymied by high costs and mechanical issues. Verdant’s system, big enough to power a handful of homes, is expected to showcase the technology as the company works on a large, commercial project in the U.K. that may be installed in 2023.

The turbines have five-meter (16-foot) rotors, half the size of what Verdant is planning for the U.K. project, with 35 kilowatts of capacity each, about four times bigger than a typical U.S. residential rooftop solar system.

Reducing costs is key to making the technology competitive. If Verdant can install about 300 megawatts to 400 megawatts worldwide, the company expects to produce power for about 14 cents a kilowatt-hour, with installation costs of about $3 million a megawatt. At 1,000 megawatts in operation, that would fall to 10 cents a kilowatt-hour. Still, that’s more than twice the cost of wind and solar power now.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P

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