New Tidal Power Turbine Array Installed in New York's East River

Image courtesy Verdant Power

Published Oct 23, 2020 7:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, renewable energy company Verdant Power installed an array of three tidal power turbines off Roosevelt Island in New York City's East River.

Verdant's Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) site is the first U.S.-licensed tidal power project, and it is a pre-commercial testbed for the company's fifth generation of turbine arrays. Its first version began operation in 2013, and the latest features heavy-duty marinized components. The three-turbine, steel-frame design is intended for scalability to larger sizes for deployment in deeper, faster-moving waters. It is also intended for economical installation: with one hoistable frame holding three five-meter turbines, the amount of on-the-water work per turbine is reduced, according to Verdant Power CEO John T. Banigan.

RITE is grid-connected, and its operation will give the New York-based company more experience and data on system performance. After six months, the frame will be lifted out of the water and one of the three turbines will be removed for inspection. The full test is scheduled to last for one year, and if all is satisfactory, Verdant hopes to scale up to a 10-meter diameter turbine for commercial sale. 

“We are proud to be the first licensed tidal power project in the U.S,” said Banigan. “Today we are demonstrating clean power from the tidal currents and that tidal power is a viable energy resource advancing our industry in the U.S. and globally."

RITE will operate under a pilot project license from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – according to Verdant, the first commercial license for a tidal power project in America. The project will provide electricity to Roosevelt Island through a connection to Con Edison’s local grid. It is underwritten by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the U.S. Department of Energy, along with New York-based private equity investors.