The Project will deploy and operate 15 double TidGen® TGU hydrokinetic tidal devices, each consisting of a 500-kilowatt turbine-generator unit for a combined capacity of 5,000 kilowatts in Western Passage, a marine waterway in the northern Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Eastport, Maine. The project includes an anchoring support structure for each module, a bundled ~ 4,000 foor submersible power and data (P&D) feeder cable from the modules to an underwater junction box (where the feeder cable is aggregated), a bundled underwater P&D cable from the underwater junction box to the on-shore station, and an on-shore station containing all needed supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and electrical interconnection equipment. The estimated average annual generation of the Western Passage Project would be 2.6 to 3.53 gigawatt-hours.
The core component of the is ORPC’s patented turbine generator unit (TGU), which is the core component of all of ORPC’s power systems, including the TidGen™ Power System installed in the nearby Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project. The TGU utilizes four advanced design cross-flow (ADCF) turbines to drive a permanent magnet generator mounted between the turbines on a common driveshaft. The ADCF turbines rotate in the same direction regardless of tidal flow direction; the rotational speed of the turbines is directly related to water flow speed.
Together, the Cobscook project and the Western Passage project comprise the “Maine Tidal Energy Project.” The Cobscook Bay project is the first grid-connected marine hydrokinetic energy project in the Western Hemisphere. It has received a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement from the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the same agreement will apply to Western Passage after it is licensed by FERC and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
This project will be located in the marine waterway of Western Passage of the northern Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Eastport, Maine, United States (44.92047°, -66.98717°).
ORPC filed its application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for preliminary permit for the Western Passage Tidal Energy Project on December 4, 2015 (P-14743). ORPC previously held preliminary permits for the Western Passage site (P-12680) which expired on December 31, 2013. ORPC requested a successive preliminary permit on January 1, 2014, but the FERC issued an order denying a third preliminary permit for lack of extraordinary circumstances. In July of 2016, ORPC received a preliminary permit to study the area.
Current status of the project implementation and future developments: fulfilling the requirements of the Preliminary Permit; Implementation of the pre-deployment environmental monitoring plans, developed collaboratively with jurisdictional federal and state agencies, have begun; Site characterization and engineering activities continue.
Key Environmental Issues
ORPC’s environmentally responsible and scientifically based approach to the Western Passage Project’s pre-deployment study plans builds on lessons learned from the nearby Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project. The adaptive management approach that is being successfully implemented at the Cobscook Bay site is essential to this approach to maintain levels of environmental monitoring that are appropriate for the project risk. Key components of our approach to pre-deployment studies include the following:
- Building upon the methods, technology and knowledge gained from the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project
- Drawing upon published environmental data from marine hydrokinetic projects installed elsewhere in the world as “best available science”
- Continued collaboration with state and federal resource agencies to evaluate and modify environmental monitoring through an adaptive management process
ORPC has prepared the following pre-deployment environmental monitoring plans for state and federal agency review:
- Sea and Shorebirds
- Marine Mammals
- Benthic environment
Table 1. Federal and/or state listed threatened (T) and endangered (E) species with potential to occur in project area.
|Species||Federal Status||State Status|
|Atlantic sturgeon (Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment (DPS)) (Acipenser oxyrinchus)||T||N/A|
|Atlantic salmon (Gulf of Maine DPS) (Salmo salar)||E||N/A|
|Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)||E||E|
|Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)||T||E|
|Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)||E||E|
|Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)||E||E|
|North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)||E||E|
|Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)||E||E|
E = Federal and/or state listed endangered
T = Federal and/or state listed threatened
P = Proposed for listing under ESA
Environmental Webpage: https://orpc.co/environmental-monitoring/
Baseline Assessment: Western Passage Tidal Energy Project
|Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Marine Mammals||Marine mammal presence and interactions.||Land based visual observations; evaluating passive acoustic monitoring (PAM).||Visual observations in November and December 2012 recorded the presence of harbor seals and harbor porpoises.||Ongoing|
|Fish||Fisheries presence and turbine interactions.||Hydroacoustic and trawl surveys of project and control sites; acoustic tag detection, turbine interaction data from Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project.||Turbine interaction data currently being collected from Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project.||Completed (2013)|
|Birds||Bird species presence and behavior.||Land based visual observations.||Species presence, behavior, and seasonality documented.||Completed|
|Invertebrates||Invertebrate species presence.||Benthic dive survey of deployment area and cable route.||Observations commenced in November 2012.||Ongoing|
|Ecosystem Processes||Marine geophysical survey.||Detailed bathymetric mapping, side-scan sonar, sub-bottom profiling and magnetometer surveys. Data used to characterize the bottom and identify potential cultural resources and marine hazards.||Results of geophysical survey contributed to the siting of turbine devices and foundational considerations.||Completed|
|Physical Environment||Water velocity surveys.||Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) surveys. Hydraulic circulation modeling.||ADCP surveys and hydraulic modeling contributed to the selection of turbine deployment locations.||Ongoing|
|Physical Environment||Underwater acoustic survey.||Drifting Noise Measurement System (DNMS) at project site.||Not available||Completed (2012)|
|Fish, Marine Mammals||Evaluated the simultaneous use of two different acoustic sensors to detect the presence and interaction of large marine animals. Combined a single beam echosounder and an acoustic camera mounted to cover the same area of the water column, to detect and identify animals present. The study showed success in detecting animals (to the order of cetaceans) and give preliminary information about their behavior. Viable method for monitoring single device-specific area. |
Monitoring completed (2011)
|Combined a single beam echosounder and an acoustic camera mounted to cover the same area of the water column, to detect and identify animals present.||The study showed success in detecting animals (to the order of cetaceans) and give preliminary information about their behavior. Viable method for monitoring single device-specific area.||Monitoring completed (2011)|
|Physical Environment||Tidal resource characterization and predicting effects of energy extraction.||Used FVCOM hydrodynamic model fed with available real-time and historic data, to establish baseline characteristics and simulate effects of energy extraction.||Predicted different tidal conditions resulting from energy extraction.||Completed|