This Earth Day, Verdant Power is celebrating a major milestone—exactly six months since its Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, featuring its TriFrame mount housing three tidal power turbines, successfully deployed in New York City’s East River – a tidal strait. In that time, the one-half scale demonstration array has continuously operated and generated 200MW —a U.S. record for marine energy production. Most importantly, the turbines performed at over 99% availability, and overall water-to-wire efficiencies reached to over 46%.

Partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), the Verdant Power project was recently recognized as the first tidal energy project to be issued a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The license allows the Company to deliver its power through Con Edison’s distribution grid.

These recent accomplishments help further demonstrate Verdant Power’s RITE Project goal of a streamlined installation and maintenance approach as well as long-term system reliability, which will help inform future deployments for the Company and others in the marine renewable energy industry.

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In October 2020, Verdant Power installed three tidal power turbines with its new TriFrame mount at its Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy site in New York’s East River.
U.S. Department of Energy

This spring, there is even more to look forward to with the RITE Project. Verdant Power will be performing a retrieve-and-replace (R&R) operation during which one of the turbines will be replaced with a rotor housing three thermoplastic blades manufactured by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

While the aim of the project is to demonstrate a streamlined installation and maintenance approach and long-term system reliability, the R&R operation will offer numerous data points for Verdant Power and NREL.  The preparation, design, and execution of the R&R maintenance cycle will be evaluated for levelized cost of energy through on-water time and equipment required to service the TriFrame™.

Each team will play a crucial role in the R&R:

The Verdant Power team will examine the entire retrieve-and-replace process, from preparation to design and execution. By inspecting the TriFrame system, they can make necessary modifications before redeploying it for the second six-month monitoring period. The team will also download and analyze the data from the first period of deployment (October 2020–spring 2021).

The lessons learned will inform future deployments for Verdant Power and others in the marine renewable energy industry.

NREL, meanwhile, will focus on the blades themselves. After retrieving the TriFrame mount, Verdant Power will replace one of the Gen5 epoxy blade turbines with another that uses NREL-manufactured thermoplastic blades. NREL produced these thermoplastic-fiberglass composite blades to be identical to the epoxy blades already used on Verdant Power's tidal turbine system, but the thermoplastic materials could prolong the life of the blades and have improved structural properties.

Over the next six-month deployment of the Verdant Power TriFrame mount, NREL’s data acquisition system will measure blade loads for the fourth turbine.

Following the deployment, the blades will return to NREL for structural validation and material characterization to help researchers better understand why certain materials perform better in seawater than others.

Thermoplastics at a smaller scale have been shown to have improved saturated or seawater condition properties compared to other traditional materials. NREL anticipates that the thermoplastic blades could be a game-changing material for marine applications at a meaningful scale.

The entire operation—from Verdant Power's aim is to demonstrate a streamlined installation and maintenance approach, and system reliability, to NREL's loads data analysis and materials research—has the potential to inform future materials and turbine deployment across the marine energy industry.

For more information on the RITE Project, visit https://www.verdantpower.com/rite.