Snohomish County PUD’s pioneering tidal energy research was further bolstered this week by $1.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for additional studies in the Puget Sound. The utility is actively researching the renewable energy source to meet the needs of one of the fastest growing areas in the Pacific Northwest. Tidal energy is a predictable, emission-free power source that can be tapped right in Western Washington.
The PUD study is one of 14 clean technology water power projects funded by the DOE, totaling $7.3 million. The University of Washington (UW) and Oregon State University (OSU) also received funding to develop the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center. (See attached fact sheet.)
“This funding will allow the PUD to carefully evaluate the technical, economic, and environmental feasibility of tidal energy production in the region,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “We’re excited to be at the forefront in developing this new technology – another tool to help us and the nation combat climate change and attain energy independence. It also helps us fulfill requirements under Washington’s renewable portfolio standard. We’re pleased DOE chose to fund additional research of this clean renewable energy source.”
“The Department of Energy is aggressively pursuing the development of next-generation technologies that are capable of producing renewable energy to add to our nation’s diverse energy portfolio,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy John Mizroch said. “Wave, tidal, and current-driven hydro power is an important clean, natural, and domestic energy source that will promote energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
“This is exactly the kind of research into domestic energy supplies that we need,” Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said. “It is terrific to see Snohomish PUD taking the lead in creating this partnership to explore tidal energy.”
The PUD is studying seven tidal energy sites in the Puget Sound, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for up to 70,000 homes. The utility launched a three-year research effort last year to assess the viability of the underwater sites. The PUD is working with several technical partners, including the University of Washington, the Electric Power Research Institute, the National Renewable Energy Lab and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Marine Sciences Laboratory as part of its study plan.
“As energy prices continue to soar, it's more important than ever that we explore ways to harness renewable energy sources,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray. “I'm excited by the possibilities of tidal energy generation and its potential benefits to customers across
Snohomish County who deserve a break. I'm also pleased that Snohomish PUD is exploring this technology in the right way - by being good stewards of the Puget Sound.”
“This grant will help Snohomish PUD continue its strong record of innovation, as shown by its remarkable progress in developing geothermal and tidal energy and promoting energy efficiency,” said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, whose district includes southern Snohomish County. “As we address the problems of climate change on a national level, seeking new sources of clean energy will continue to be crucial to our economic and environmental well-being. I’m pleased to see Snohomish PUD take such strong leadership role in exploring the clean energy frontier.”
During the next two years, the DOE funds will support critical site studies related to geotechnical, bathymetrical, and tidal current regime as well as social and environmental considerations. PUD researchers also will focus on designs for a pilot plant, construction planning issues, community outreach/consultation and permitting activities.
The PUD also is evaluating geothermal energy and other clean, renewable resources as part of its effort to meet growing energy needs through conservation and renewable energy. Initiative 937, passed by voters in fall 2006, requires utilities to obtain a greater share of their energy supply from green renewable sources in the coming years (15% of their supply by 2020).
For information about the UW/OSU grant to develop the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, visit the following Web site link: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2008/Sep08/waves.html