Marine Energy

Jeff Siegel

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted April 11, 2008

It may not be as shiny as solar, or exciting as wind, but marine energy is what many analysts are now calling, “The Sleeping Giant of Renewables.”

And it’s easy to see why.

Marine energy is the world’s largest untapped energy source, and it maintains a significant advantage over both solar and wind–it’s constant.

While solar and wind certainly offer up some pretty impressive investment opportunities (Just ask those who are up 59.4% on the Alternative Energy Speculator’s latest solar play), both wind and solar power systems only provide intermittent power generation, as sunlight and wind are not available 24/7.

Marine energy, however, is constant with the motion of the waves and tides. That is 24/7–and there’s enough of it to…

Marine Energy: Power the Entire Globe

Just ask the experts…

  • The World Energy Council has estimated that marine energy could supply twice as much electricity as the entire world now consumes.
  • The Electric Power Research Institute has estimated wave energy along the U.S. coastlines at 2,100 TWh per year, or roughly half the country’s total electricity consumption.
  • And a study prepared for the Scottish Parliament estimated that the wave energy potential for Europe is about three times the current electrical generating capacity of the UK. As well, the study estimated that the power could be delivered on par with the cost of grid power.

Heck, even peak oil and energy expert, Matt Simmons is organizing a facility in Rockland, Maine called the Ocean Energy Institute. Simmons stated in a recent interview that you only need about $50 million–which he said is nothing in the energy business–to get you through at least five years of seeing how real this area is.

Part of the Ocean Energy Institute, by the way, includes a venture-capital fund!

Turning the Tide

While marine energy is definitely in its infancy compared to pretty much all the other energy sources we use today, it’s starting to gain a lot of attention–and more importantly, large influxes of investment capital. This is primarily due to improved technology that’s enabling better economics, coupled with new deployments that are proving these projects can deliver the goods…competitively.

In fact, just last week a company called Marine Current Turbines successfully completed the first installation phase of its 1.2MW tidal power system in the waters of the Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland.

The system, known as SeaGen, is expected to be fully operational later this summer, where it will operate between 18 to 20 hours per day, producing enough electricity for 1,000 homes.

Not surprisingly, a power purchase agreement has been signed with ESB– Ireland’s national electric company.

Incidentally, the company also had little trouble landing $15 million in funding from Triodos Bank and hedge fund, AM2 last year.

Here in the U.S., there have also been a number of marine energy projects under construction over the past few years. And many have since been deployed, and are now being tested.

  • In New York City, Verdant Power is testing a few tidal current turbines in the East River. They expect to have 10MW running by 2010.
  • In San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric (NYSE:PCG) is working with local agencies to explore tidal power projects in the San Francisco Bay. The Electric Power Research Institute has actually stated that the city could tap enough wave power at Ocean Beach to keep all of San Francisco lit.
  • Ocean Power Technologies (NASDAQ:OPTT) has deployed systems in Oahu, Hawaii, and has an operational wave energy system in New Jersey.

There’s also a small Canadian company that’s recently received its permit approval for a wave energy project in Oregon. Even better – the company has landed a 15- year deal with PG&E to deliver power starting in 2010.

That’s less than two years away!

You can find out more about this company by becoming a member of the Alternative Energy Speculator.

To a new way of life, and a new generation of wealth…

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