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Green energy first: New York firm seeks tidal power plant in East River

Verdant Power seeks license to build a plant with 30 underwater turbines in New York's East River. It would be the first of its kind in the US, expanding the nation's green energy resources.

By Staff writer / January 3, 2011

A green energy company is seeking permission to install 30 new tidal power turbines in the east channel of New York’s East River.

Alfredo Sosa/staff/file

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Wind and solar power get the lion’s share of attention in the realm of green energy. But Monday marked a milestone for another renewable energy source, tidal power, with the nation’s first-ever application to build a tidal power plant licensed to transmit energy onto the nation’s electrical grid.

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Verdant Power, a New York company, filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to install up to 30 new tidal power turbines in the east channel of New York’s East River.

“We are extremely excited about the submission of this license application,” Ron Smith, CEO of Verdant Power said in a statement. “It represents the culmination of nearly a decade of work undertaken by Verdant Power and a variety of project stakeholders to add tidal power to the US clean energy mix.”

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The company's three-bladed underwater turbines work a lot like a submerged version of a wind power plant to capture the power generated by tides, the cyclical rushing of water toward shore or back toward the ocean. But to deploy such a system, the company had to conduct extensive research to show its system does not harm fish or other aquatic life.

To do that, Verdant Power from 2006-2008 deployed six full-size turbines in the East River, delivering energy to New York City businesses. Partial funding for the design and testing of a new composite turbine blade was contributed by the US Department of Energy. Research support came from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, and the University of Minnesota.

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