After losing $42 million, DOE decides to lend out $16 million

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

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.

The Surfrider Foundation wants to make sure such projects don’t affect popular beaches or parks where people enjoy recreational activities such as fishing, surfing, and kayaking.

“As is often is the case, the devil is likely to be in the details,” said John Hocevar, Greenpeace’s oceans campaign director, in a statement to TheDC News Foundation. “Decisions about where will certainly be important; you don’t want to stick a major industrial operation in the middle of the breeding or foraging grounds for endangered marine mammals, for example.”

There are also economic concerns as well as the power produced from tidal energy is not cost-competitive with fossil fuel power.

“It does not cost much to operate tidal power plants, but their construction costs are high, which lengthens payback periods. As a result, the cost per kilowatt-hour of tidal power is not competitive with conventional fossil fuel power,” according to the Energy Department.

There are currently no tidal energy power plants in the U.S., but federal officials are looking to sites on the Atlantic Coast and in the Pacific Northwest. However, environmentalists have supported the construction of one ocean energy facility off the Oregon coast.

Follow Michael on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Tags : department of energy
Loading comments...
© Copyright 2010 - 2018 | The Daily Caller