Ontario Funding C$2.2M River Energy Project
12 April 2008
|A Verdant turbine being lowered into New York’s East River as part of the RITE project.|
The Canadian province of Ontario is investing C$2.2 million in the Cornwall Ontario River Energy (CORE) Project in the St. Lawrence River. The goal of the two-phase CORE Project is to develop 15MW of power as a demonstration of the feasibility and commercial viability of Verdant Power Canada’s river-powered Free Flow Turbine.
CORE is Verdant’s second major project; the company began installing turbines for the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project in New York City’s East River, along the eastern shore of Roosevelt Island, in 2006. At full capacity, the three-phase RITE project could generate up to 10 MW.
|The Verdant turbine. Click to enlarge.|
The Free Flow Turbine is a three-blade, horizontal-axis turbine that is installed on the riverbed and operates fully under water. The turbine blades rotate at a slow rate, driving a speed increaser which in turn drives a grid connected, three-phase induction generator. The gearbox and generator are encased in a waterproof streamlined nacelle mounted on a streamlined pylon.
River-deployed Free Flow Turbines are fixed and generate power on the single, continuous flow of the river throughout the day. Pylons on the tidal versions of Free Flow Turbines are assembled with internal yaw bearings, which allow the units to pivot with the changing tide and thus capture energy for the majority of the day.
Depending on the site, various types of devices can be used to anchor the turbines under water.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources estimates that there is 2,000 MW of untapped waterpower potential in Ontario. Verdant estimates that there is enough potential power in the water currents of Canada’s tides, rivers and manmade channels to generate 15,000 MW of electricity using its technology. A study prepared for the National Research Council of Canada—“An Evaluation of The Kinetic Energy of Canadian Rivers & Estuaries”—identified a potential of more than 110 million MWh per year of kinetic energy in Canada, according to Verdant.
Funding for the project comes from the Ontario Innovation Demonstration Fund, which supports bio-based, environmental and alternative energy technologies.
Unfortunately, the most effective location for such turbines would be in the middle of the river, close to the surface, where flow velocity is highest. Siting them near the riverbed reduces pylon length and avoids creating a shipping hazard but the price is very modest output: 10-15MW is peanuts compared to electricity consumption.
The alternative is to build a barrage and locks to preserve the shipping lane. The environmental impact is greater and the cost much greater. On the upside, you get a new crossing point for whatever mode of transport you need it.
Example: the relatively small Danube Hydro Power Plant in Vienna, Austria. Capacity is 172MW, i.e. an order of magnitude greater than the Verdant Power solution. In addition to power, the barrage provides pedestrian and bicycle access to Danube Island, a park-cum-wildlife preserve some ~21km long and ~300m wide. This artificial structure was created as part of a flood control system.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 12 April 2008 at 07:35 AM
Fantastic idea. I don't see a downside.
Posted by: steve | 12 April 2008 at 07:39 AM
You could put them on mounts that could be raised and lowered for shipping and water levels.
Posted by: sjc | 12 April 2008 at 08:37 AM
The downside is "the cuisinart effect" - scroll about halfway down....
However, we know that engineers can work miracles with the right incentives, so eventually the problems could fixed with the right design. Hopefully, supply & demand will eventually lead to large scale deployment of these kinds of systems.
Posted by: Still A Neocon | 12 April 2008 at 10:58 AM
Very good investment: $2.2M for 15MW. It will pay back in one year with cost per 1KW of $0.016
There is anothere idea I from Zotloterer Gravitational Vortex Power Plant.
Very unconventional aproach.
Posted by: mki | 12 April 2008 at 11:17 AM
The article doesn't say how much power the single 5-m turbine shown can produce, but one of the links says 35 kW.
Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan, hydrogen-to-boron convert | 12 April 2008 at 12:56 PM
My first thought was that such turbines might be integrated with bridge structures or tunnels to save cost.
But shipping lanes could be a problem. And it also violates my tenet that dual purpose designs tend to compromise each function.
Posted by: K | 12 April 2008 at 02:17 PM
15,000 MW basically substitutes 15 large coal or nuclear power plants.
C$2.2 Million for 15 MW is not much money.
15'000 MW would therefore require C$2.2 Billion.
Florida plans to nuclear power plants with only 2,300 MW for an eye-popping US$24 Billion.
Keep in mind flowing water is actually free and is available in abundance and does not produce any nuclear waste and a water turbine is not an attractive target to evil-doers. Even if a turbine cannot always be placed optimal, it seems quite competitive compared to other electricity generating options which have massively been funded by the tax payers for decades.
Yes, and as always it is no silver bullet solving everything. But who needs a silver bullet? If you have 100 solutions and each solution solves 1% doesn't this also solve 100% of the task given?
As far as the: "the cuisinart effect" is concerned: It says that the turbines rotate slowly - 'ever tried to catch a fish with your bare hands? Besides, is it a huge technical challenge to put a simple net over the turbine preventing fish to swim near the turbine blades?
Posted by: globi | 13 April 2008 at 04:40 AM
There are many other ideal places around the Montreal Islands where a few hundred (various types) free flow turbines could be installed. The total power potential is evaluated at up to 20,000 MW. Assuming that 50% could be done economically, up to 10,000 MW could be generated continuously.
This could reduce most, if not all, the current coal fired power plants installed in Ontario. Quebec Hydro has been interested, on-and-off, but the potential legal claims over yearly flooding of properties built too close to the river gave this high potential development a much lower priority.
Better ways to control the St-Lawrence and Ottawa water flow would have to be installed. A joint Quebec-Ontario-New York State project-agreement would be required. Coal, NG and Nuclear lobbies would do their best to stop it.
Posted by: Harvey D | 13 April 2008 at 08:32 AM
This may be the future. Lots of renewable energy sources distributed providing power. Tidal, wind, solar and lots of other sources can provide power to local grids. V2G, pumped hydro and other methods can provide peak demand. Now all we need is a plan to coordinate all of this to make sure the system works.
Posted by: sjc | 13 April 2008 at 09:45 AM
MKI – you got that right – each unit has a max capability of 35KW, if you read into the sight the full build out for 10MW will require up to 300 turbines. The current test installation is six turbines for 175KW that’s a capability of 29.1KW per turbine. I love the ideas of these but have yet to see the per-unit cost and estimated cost of operating maintenance. They have a good chance of making a go of it in NYC where the Subzone costs can sometimes be as high as $500.00 per MW but on the St Laurence River the typical zonal costs run in the low teens per MW when the NYISO system is congested.
Posted by: tb | 13 April 2008 at 03:13 PM
So do they actually work yet?
http://www.seacoastnrg.org/2007/08/13/verdant-to-rework-its-tidal-power-turbines-in-nyc/ August 2008 – Blade problems.
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2007/11/20/2007-11-20_new_design_for_east_river_underwater_win.html November 2007 – Fix for problem?
I would love to see tidal power get used, but do not see evidence of mature, long term reliable, systems yet. There are good examples for Solar, Wind, Wave, and Geothermal power, but not Tidal, unless you count tidal based on dammed hydro power technology.
Wonder if this company is starting too large like Boeing did when they tried to build a 1 MW wind generator in the early 80s. It shook apart. Wind turbines in the 1-3MW range are very common now. (One company is now working on a 7.5 MW turbine)
Some problems remaining for Verdant:
1. Anchoring on Sea Bed. This is expensive when you need to hold up under so much force. I've been told the NY East River installation cost as much as the turbines. Wouldn't this double the cost of power generated.
2. Holding up over time. One of the links above talks to problems they've had with strong current flow. Gee what happens when a mid-depth log hits the turbines. Water logged and submerged debris could be a bigger problem.
5. Fish seems to avoid the blades. What about cetaceans?
I'm sure it will be possible to harness tidal power effectively in some manner. Less sure about current efforts. I sincerely hope Verdant has solved their blade problem. Does anyone know? Do the Canadians know?
Posted by: mds | 13 April 2008 at 04:57 PM
I'm worried about the gear box, it has to multiply 20rpm of the blades to 3600rpm of the generator, that a lot of strain on a gearbox. These things might cost a lot on acquaintances. Good news is they already have a few in running in newyork.
Posted by: Ben | 13 April 2008 at 07:54 PM
Is the fusion reactor already generating electricity?
After all they spent billions of tax dollars on that development for the last 50 years, it should be close to completion by now or shouldn't it?
Where would tidal power be by now if tax payers had also spent billions on its development?
Posted by: Fusionillusion | 14 April 2008 at 03:18 AM
Good news is they already have a few in running in newyork.
That has not been established.
Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan, hydrogen-to-boron convert | 14 April 2008 at 11:40 AM
Fusion is quite a ways a way. It they actually have a sustained fusion reaction generating power, it is news to me.
Posted by: sjc | 14 April 2008 at 07:14 PM
Generators typically run at 1800 rpm and not 3600 rpm.
Besides, I don't see why they couldn't run gearless turbines with a frequency converter.
Posted by: globi | 15 April 2008 at 12:59 PM
You do not have to sync to the line. You can run at some optimal voltage and frequency, rectify to D.C. and invert to line A.C. This is the same inverter technology used by grid tied solar PV panels.
Posted by: sjc | 15 April 2008 at 03:51 PM
i'm looking for tidal power solution for Bangladesh's plain land rivers. Any info for me, please? i thought it is a good solution
Posted by: anwar hossain | 22 April 2008 at 09:25 PM
I took a look over at seacoastnrg.org, this website refers to Verdant Power as being a startup.
I guess Verdant Power Canada was formed to take advantage of the green energy initiatives now being funded by the Ontario govt.
The website of the Canadian company mentions the RITE project on the East River but conveniently nothing at all about the troubles they've had. I therefore assume that things are still not running smoothly. They would be wise to admit their teething problems if they've been solved. Otherwise say 'not without difficulty but results now look promising' to put a positive spin on it.
Having just read about the turbines being pulled out -at least they didn't have to drag the East River for them - in August last year after only 8 months in the water and the 5 active ones had only generated 7,000kwhs in all that time (about $1000 worth) I had to smile when I saw them refer to themselves as a world leader on the Canadian website.
Well we know the turbines were returned to duty in November, I'm just thinking it's a little premature of them to take money from the Ontario Govt not five months later, based on this track record.
Furthermore we know all the units had failed by August. I think Verdant conned themselves into building 6 units before they knew any were going to work. Their suppliers gave them a price for one unit and when they balked the supplier comes back and says 'but if you order 6 I can do them at the price you want'. It's an old trick.
Someone asked does the Candian govt know ? Well they just found out one of their ministers (Bernier) was in the habit of leaving classified documents at his girlfriend's house on weekends ! I think that answers the question.
Posted by: T2 | 22 June 2008 at 09:02 PM