Assorted Ideas

3 New Turbines Upgrade Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project

Three new tidal energy turbines entered the East River near Roosevelt Island on Thursday evening. The RITE project’s giant step forward.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News / Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

The Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project (RITE), a potential game changer, made a splash this week. Around 9:00 P.M. on Thursday, Verdant Power lowered three new fifth generation turbines into the East River.

Verdant Power's new tidal energy turbines await launch.
Verdant Power’s three new tidal energy turbines arrived from New Jersey, and they await lowering into East River currents.

As reported earlier, this next phase of the RITE project joins turbines deployed in 2011, but are a significant step ahead. While larger and capable of generating more power, the new tidal energy turbines innovate in other ways.

Verdant says its “…novel TriFrame™ mounting system… is the next step on a pathway to global commercialization and profitable commercial operations.”

We caught up with CEO John Banigan and asked him for a brief overview.

Verdant CEO on how the new tidal energy turbines fit in the general scheme.

The original set of turbines supplied energy to the old Gristedes, now Foodtown, and to Motorgate. The idea was a trial because nobody knew for sure if the equipment could survive powerful East River tides.

“We also are proud to be a New York-based company…” John Banigan

The fifth-generation turbines muscle up and will tie directly into ConEd’s Roosevelt Island power grid.

RITE project power line installation.
Workers draw a cable that will deliver power from the new tidal energy turbines.

“This pre-commercial demonstration of the proprietary integrated system is designed to optimize the economics of installation and maintenance over the system’s 20-year life, and to prove performance,” Verdant explains.

“This design provides for readily scalable systems to larger sizes for deeper and faster tidal straits.”

RITE is the first tidal power project licensed in the United States, and Verdant eyes taking its lessons across the globe. Its TriFrame™ mounting system is unlike anything else in the world.

Contrast: New Tidal Energy Turbines… and the past…

Energy past and future, three new tidal energy turbines and Ravenswood Power Plant.
The new tidal energy turbines on deck and the Ravenswood Power Plant in the background.

When I talked with Verdant president Trey Taylor, the contrast was striking because Ravenswood set the backdrop.

“That provides twenty-four percent of New York City’s power,” he said, and it’s a fact little known to Roosevelt Islanders.

But Ravenswood is also New York State’s most polluting, still burning low grade #6 fuel oil. Don’t be fooled by “oil,” because as a former stationery engineer, I can tell you, it’s closer to tar.

New ideas and a promising future…

Taylor is an idea man, and he’s full of them.

As we waited for the new tidal energy turbines entering the water, he talked concepts for Roosevelt Island.

“I talked with RIOC,” he said, and just before the three pieces of groundbreaking equipment broke the surface, he was ten years ahead.

Taylor envisions a future where water, wind and solar merge to make Roosevelt Island a model for the world.

Complimenting tidal energy turbines, he sees solar panels atop Motorgate, and he likes catching wind energy as it swirls past residential complexes.

Returning to the present though, the new tidal energy turbines, clawed feet securely in the riverbed, will spin out power for one year. And then, Verdant pulls them up for inspection.

Along with learning about their durability, Verdant will have statistics about how much power they pushed into the Roosevelt Island grid.

And for Contrast: Verdant Power’s original install in 2011

The first step with groundbreaking, but it included only a single turbine.

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