The world's first offshore test site for small-scale ocean current turbines will soon be installed by Florida Atlantic University's Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC).
Recently a five-year lease agreement was signed between Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
The installation will include anchored floating test berths 13 miles offshore from Broward County, Fla. The berths will allow ocean current turbine prototypes (up to 100-kW generation capacity) to be deployed from vessels moored in the Gulf Stream for weeks at a time. In addition, the buoys will collect data of nearby ocean conditions.
"This is the first time a lease has been issued to test ocean current energy equipment in Federal waters," said Walter Cruickshank, BOEM Acting Director. "The Gulf Stream contains a tremendous amount of energy, and this technology offers exciting potential to expand the nation's renewable energy portfolio."
Since 2007, SNMREC has been working to establish the world's first offshore ocean current turbine test site. In late 2013, researchers successfully performed a sea trial of the first test berth buoy as well as tow tests of a small-scale research turbines.
BOEM will review a project plan before the first test berth is installed later this year.
Approximately $20 million has been secured for the project through the U.S. Department of Energy, the state of Florida and private companies.