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January 23, 2012 | last updated January 24, 2012 11:13 am

Reports highlight potential of Maine ocean power

Two recent U.S. Department of Energy reports highlight Maine's potential for producing tidal power. If wave and tidal energy sources were to be fully realized, Maine could generate more than 15 terawatt-hours of electricity a year, or 10% of all tidal power energy produced nationwide, the Bangor Daily News reported.

According to a press release from the DOE, waves and tidal currents off the nation's coasts could contribute significantly to the country's total annual electricity production. Water power, including conventional hydropower and new wave and tidal resources, could provide 15% of the country's electricity by 2030. Maine was one of the top states for tidal-current power potential, preceded only by Alaska and Washington. The coast south of Eastport and south of Cross Island were highlighted as spots with considerably larger power potential, according to the report on tidal power. Though the figures are based on some theoretical data, Maine's tides could generate up to 675 megawatts of total tidal power.

A Portland-based company is already working to harness that power in Maine and elsewhere. Ocean Renewable Power Co. plans to install its full-scale tidal turbine unit in Cobscook Bay off Eastport over the next two years, and has projects in Alaska and Nova Scotia in the works. Another company, Tidewalker Associates, is seeking investors for a tidal-power project off Eastport as well.

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