A collaboration between the University of Maine, Maine Maritime Academy and Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. has landed nearly $1 million in grant money from the federal government to research and develop tidal power in the Pine Tree State.
The funding, which totals $951,500, comes through a congressional initiative executed by the state’s federal delegation, including U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud.
As part of the project, researchers will move forward in evaluating the potential environmental impact of harnessing tidal energy off the coast of Eastport in the Western Passage of Passamaquoddy Bay.
The University of Maine will lead the project.
Research will cover a number of different aspects of tidal power in the waters off the coast of Maine, which boasts some of the widest daily tidal swings in the world. Researchers are expected to look at not only how much energy can be extracted from underwater turbines and how to deliver it to the local population, but the environmental impact of such a system on the area.
The jagged coast line and high tides in Maine make it the prefect site for such systems, said UMaine Libra Foundation Professor of Engineering Michael Peterson, calling the area near Eastport “the most viable site in the continental U.S.”
Officials did not provide a timetable regarding when tidal power may be viable for Maine but said the group plans to conduct extensive environmental research first before putting any turbines or technology in the water.