Pilot project harnesses hydrokinetic clean energy from Florida gulf stream


An offshore demonstration by OceanBased Perpetual Energy LLC and the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), has demonstrated implications for a future of clean energy derived from Florida’s Gulf Stream current.

The demonstration, held between the 25th and 28th of May, is the first to yield energy from the Gulf Stream, off Florida’s south coast, for a continuous 24 hours using only the water’s perpetual flow.

The findings bode well for future development of commercial applications to harness and distribute the Gulf Stream’s energy to Florida.

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After a month-long postponement related to COVID-19, the team fielded three types of ocean current energy converters (OCECs). The OCECs were submerged in the Gulf Stream current 20 miles offshore between Broward and Palm Beach counties, where the water’s velocity ranges from 3.5 to 5.5 miles per hour without interruptions.

The team of 12 included scientists, researchers, engineers, videographers, photographers and crew aboard the Go America, a 150-foot research vessel.

OceanBased engineers mapped out how the seabed-based power substation would receive incoming electricity from the Gulf Stream current flowing through the OCECs. The electricity generated would then be transmitted through a relay substation connected by a seabed cable running 15 to 20 miles back to the shore.

On land, an additional substation would connect to the national grid or be tapped for other uses.

OceanBased formed its partnership with FAU’s SNMREC in 2019 to advance the company’s research into marine-based power generation.

“This historic demonstration shows the world that the Gulf Stream can produce clean, renewable perpetual power on a 24-hour-a-day basis using a variety of turbine concepts,” said OceanBased Chairman Nasser Alshemaimry.

“Population growth and public desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy will continue to strengthen demand for responsible alternatives. Especially in Florida, where population continues to grow by 1,000 people per day, there is a clear need to invest in clean ocean energy technology”, said Alshemaimry.

This story first appeared on our sister site, Renewable Energy World.