Clean Power

Published on July 4th, 2009 | by Tina Casey

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DARPA Joins Blue Energy and World Energy in Race to Harness Ocean Power

July 4th, 2009 by  



The power of the ocean appears limitless.[social_buttons]

Is the world ready for another ambitious ocean power program?

Blue Energy Canada Inc. and World Energy Research are moving quickly in that direction.  After signing a memorandum of understanding last month, the two companies just announced a formal agreement to build a 200 megawatt, half-billion dollar commercial tidal power project based on Blue Energy’s Davis Tidal Turbine.  Meanwhile, DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has been quietly working the other end of the scale to develop buoy-sized ocean power generating equipment.

Ocean Power on a Grand Scale

Last year’s disastrous startup of the gigantic Pelamis wave power project in Portugal illustrates how the allure of ocean power is matched by its unpredictability, though as a tidal current project, the World Energy/Blue Energy venture will face a different set of variables than those besetting the Pelamis project.  On the other side of the coin are companies like Swell Fuel, which makes small units that can be linked in a network to scale up.  In the case of Swell Fuel, the added attraction is built-in safety engineering that enables each unit to fold into a position that can weather extreme tides and stormy seas.

DARPA and Ocean Power

DARPA has its eye on the potential of ocean power and has dipped a cautious toe in the water.  Last year, DARPA put out a request for information on small scale ocean-based energy systems that would enable the development of autonomous station keeping buoys.  The system would have to use and store energy for long periods of time while surviving open ocean conditions.  The range of variables for operability and survivability goes all the way from dead calm to 30-foot waves, and includes varying solar conditions as well.

The future of ocean power may well lie in Pelamis-sized projects, but that still leaves plenty of room for Swell Fuel and other ocean power innovators to get into the act.

Image: Rachel_thecat on flickr.com.

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.





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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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  • Greenfuturesmag

    There is no development-the two companies parted ways when one of them did not live up to the terms of the agreement. This now makes three for three for WER not following through:Sambuca, Blue Energy, and the German turbine maker
    Wasserkraft Volk AG (WKV).

    • Tina Casey

      Greenfutures, thanks for the update.

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  • Maya

    I would Not Speak to soon Blue Energy has done there home work and had some serious testing.

    The Davis Turbine has been running since 1984 at a 20 MW on the Annapolis River at the Annapolis Tidal Generating. And receives close to 40,000 tourist each year.

    Below is also a report comment from one of the largest engineering firms we know including others that have participated in Davis Turbine testing.

    “The Davis Turbine, in our opinion, is a technically feasible alternative for producing electricity. All investigators who have reviewed the concept including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the National Research Council of Canada and other consulting engineering firms agree that this technology works and it is a credible development. – RW Beck (Engineering) Inc.,

    I believe that the Blue Energy Tidal Bridge is the only one with this type of extensive testing.

  • Maya

    I would Not Speak to soon Blue Energy has done there home work and had some serious testing.

    The Davis Turbine has been running since 1984 at a 20 MW on the Annapolis River at the Annapolis Tidal Generating. And receives close to 40,000 tourist each year.

    Below is also a report comment from one of the largest engineering firms we know including others that have participated in Davis Turbine testing.

    “The Davis Turbine, in our opinion, is a technically feasible alternative for producing electricity. All investigators who have reviewed the concept including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the National Research Council of Canada and other consulting engineering firms agree that this technology works and it is a credible development. – RW Beck (Engineering) Inc.,

    I believe that the Blue Energy Tidal Bridge is the only one with this type of extensive testing.

  • russ

    The DARPA thing makes sense – they are talking about something simple and most likely doable.

    The others, Blue Energy Canada & World Energy Research, we will see about and I hope they have good luck. I would not invest one slim dime in either one though so if they make it big then I lose out.

    I am positive my dime is safer in my pocket though as I expect they will go the way of Pelamis – lots of press releases and then disappear.

  • russ

    The DARPA thing makes sense – they are talking about something simple and most likely doable.

    The others, Blue Energy Canada & World Energy Research, we will see about and I hope they have good luck. I would not invest one slim dime in either one though so if they make it big then I lose out.

    I am positive my dime is safer in my pocket though as I expect they will go the way of Pelamis – lots of press releases and then disappear.

  • russ

    The DARPA thing makes sense – they are talking about something simple and most likely doable.

    The others, Blue Energy Canada & World Energy Research, we will see about and I hope they have good luck. I would not invest one slim dime in either one though so if they make it big then I lose out.

    I am positive my dime is safer in my pocket though as I expect they will go the way of Pelamis – lots of press releases and then disappear.

  • The development on building a giant reservoir for the purpose of harnessing the ocean power is rather new. From what I read before it require a huge investment but that can easily be earned back in the long run. I just hope that the project will go smoothly as planned. If it does materialize, just imagine the amount of energy that we would have saved rather than burning fuel and coal for energy generation.

  • The development on building a giant reservoir for the purpose of harnessing the ocean power is rather new. From what I read before it require a huge investment but that can easily be earned back in the long run. I just hope that the project will go smoothly as planned. If it does materialize, just imagine the amount of energy that we would have saved rather than burning fuel and coal for energy generation.

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