Promises of emissions-free power get the ball rolling, but unknowns remain.
Christian Hamaker is managing editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
After years of feasibility studies, lack of development funds, and escalating fuel costs across the energy spectrum, ocean energy is suddenly a very hot topic.
The dam holding back growing interest in the alternative fuel source finally burst late last year, buoyed by a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conference highlighting energy from waves, tides, ocean currents, and rivers, and by surging interest in a new permitting process for projects supported by these new technologies.
FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher isn’t a detractor, but he’s heard concerns from potential participants about the challenges they already face, including alleged inequity in permitting.
Building on the commission’s technical conference last December examining new hydro technologies, FERC on Feb. 15 of this year announced a new interim policy for nascent hydro technologies, and sought comment. “These emerging new hydroelectric technologies have significant potential,” Kelliher said, “However, these technologies present some challenge relating to reliability, environmental and safety implications, and commercial viability.”