The Energy Department has announced that it’s giving $16 million to seventeen U.S. companies to capture energy from waves, tides and currents.
This comes on the heels of the department’s announcement that it already lost $42 million on a $50 million loan guarantee given to a van manufacturing company that was supposed to make natural gas-powered vehicles.
“Wave and tidal energy represent a large, untapped resource for the United States and responsible development of this clean, renewable energy source is an important part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The DOE is spending $16 million to increase tidal energy production and study how ocean power affects the environment.
Some $13.5 million of DOE funding will go to eight projects that will attempt to build wave and tidal energy capture devices to bring down costs and maximize efficiency. Another $2.5 million will go to nine projects that will analyze data on the environmental effects of tidal projects and potential areas to develop such projects.
Tidal energy projects have gotten a lukewarm reception from environmentalists, who have to balance supporting renewable energy production with protecting the environment.
“We want these projects to proceed cautiously and incrementally,” Chad Nelson, environmental director for the Surfrider Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.
According to Nelson, tidal energy projects can cause such problems that could impact marine life. For example, tidal energy projects can give off electromagnetic frequencies that impact fish, sharks, and marine mammals.
“Tidal power plants that dam estuaries can impede sea life migration, and silt build-ups behind such facilities can affect local ecosystems,” the Energy Department reports. “Tidal fences may also disturb sea life migration.”
“We’re hoping that if you do these projects cautiously, incrementally, and transparently you’re going to be able to get the support of the environmental community,” Nelson added.
There are several ways to construct tidal energy power plants. Such plants are designed to harness the kinetic motion of the ebb and flow of the tide as it goes in and out every day to produce electricity.