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Video: Power Generating System Could Harness Gulf Stream's Flow

By The Maritime Executive 06-12-2020 02:02:46

Last month, an R&D team from Florida Atlantic University and Miami-based renewable power firm OceanBased Perpetual Energy carried out a test of a novel generating system to harness the energy of the Gulf Stream. 

Hydrokinetic wave and tidal power technology is an established field of research - notably in Scotland - but waves and tides deliver variable amounts of energy. The Gulf Stream maintains a perpetual flow in a single direction, and at the team's test site off Florida it runs at a steady three to five knots.  

After a month-long postponement due to COVID-19, the team of 12 scientists, researchers and crew fielded three different types of turbines configured for hydrokinetic use. With their equipment loaded aboard the research vessel Go America, they transited to a site 20 miles off the coast of Broward County for a 24-hour test run. 

“This historic demonstration shows the world that the Gulf Stream can produce clean, renewable perpetual power on a 24-hour-a-day basis using a variety of turbine concepts,” said OceanBased Chairman Nasser Alshemaimry. “It is the starting point for commercializing ocean current energy in the Gulf Stream, thus reducing fossil fuel dependency and benefiting our climate and the planet for generations to come.”  

OceanBased says that its engineers have mapped out how a seabed-based power substation would receive electricity from the powerful Gulf Stream current flowing through the turbines.  The electricity would then be transmitted through a relay substation connected by a seabed cable running 15 to 20 miles back to the seashore.  On land, an additional substation would connect to the utility grid or be tapped for other uses.

Last year, OceanBased formed a partnership with the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) at Florida Atlantic University to advance the project. SNMREC is one of three centers designated by the U.S. Department of Energy to assist companies with the development of marine renewables.

“Population growth and public desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy will continue to strengthen demand for responsible alternatives,” Alshemaimry added. “Especially in Florida, where population continues to grow by 1,000 people per day, there is a clear need to invest in clean ocean energy technology.”