Portland-Maine based Ocean Renewable Power Co. Inc., developer of the RivGen power system—what it says is the longest operating river hydrokinetic device in the Americas—is moving forward to build its 5-MW tidal energy pilot project in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

The firm announced May 25 that it submitted a preliminary permitting application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which proposes installing the project in Upper Cook Inlet offshore of East Foreland on the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula.

The pilot cost is estimated at $1million to $2 million and projected to rise to between $20 million and $25 million through final design and installation of the first 5 MW, the application notes.

Ocean Renewable Power will collaborate with Homer Electric Association Inc., an Alaska rural electric cooperative that is set to buy tidal energy produced once the project is operational, the firm says..

The proposed project includes “a tidal current power generation facility" that will use proprietary Turbine Generator Units placed in an array under the water’s surface, the firm's application says. The proposed devices “will convert the energy of tidal current into electrical energy that will be connected to a substation on shore using underwater power and data cables.”

Company CEO Stuart Davies said Cook Inlet is "the premiere tidal resource in the U.S. and harnessing clean, renewable, reliable energy from it will help the U.S. achieve its ambitious goals of a 100 percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions."

The tidal range found in northern Cook Inlet is the second highest in North America reaching 12 meters, according to the FERC application.

"In robust tidal resources of Cook Inlet, ORPC anticipates each MW-scale device will produce up to 2,700 MWh per year," the application notes.

The project will be developed in a phased approach starting with a single turbine unit test, followed by two additional devices installed for a three-device array, bringing total capacity to 5 MW, the application says, with estimated dimensions of the MW-scale devices at 37.2 meters (122 ft) in width and 21.7 meters (71.2 ft) in height.

Within five years of the pilot, Ocean Renewable Power will determine if the site is suitable for commercial development scaleup to 100 MW, its application notes.

Homer Electric Association notes the project's robust net metering program that is available to individuals and businesses seeking to create renewable projects.

Brad Janorschke, association general manager, said “In coming years, we anticipate additional opportunities to work with renewable energy companies such as Ocean Renewable Power to diversify and integrate renewable power into [our] power grid."


Nathan Johnson, vice president-development at ORPC, says, "ORPC anticipates the pilot phase of the project, coupled with advancements in manufacturing and the development of a local supply chain, will inform the size and cost of the subsequent commercial scale project."