The project will be carried out with the support of the Bureau of
Ocean and Energy Management (BEOM), which for the first time has
leased out federal waters as a test site.
"The Gulf Stream contains a tremendous amount of energy, and this
technology offers exciting potential to expand the nation's
renewable energy portfolio," BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank
said in a press release this week announcing the deal.
Near the end of the summer, scientists will begin anchoring buoys
equipped with a variety of sensors to the ocean floor, in about 900
feet (300 meters) of water some 12 nautical miles off the Florida
coast near Fort Lauderdale.
The equipment will monitor the strength of the currents around the
Scientists will then conduct additional testing with a prototype
turbine to determine how much electricity could be produced by the
currents, said Sue Skemp, executive director of FAU's Southeast
National Marine Renewable Energy Center.
The Gulf Stream is a massive ocean current that runs north from the
southern tip of Florida to the Canadian coast before turning east
and heading across the ocean as the North Atlantic current.
It comes closest to shore near south Florida, making it an ideal
location to test tether turbines to harness the current, which moves
at about 5.4 kilometers per hour (3.36 miles per hour) according to
a 2012 University of Massachusetts study.
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Ocean currents are more reliable than fickle winds, according to the
BOEM, and could potentially provide up to 35 percent of Florida's
Researchers say the project is still in its early stages but hope
the tests will help them understand how and where to place the
"It's going to depend on the types of devices, the design aspects
and the performance levels they can obtain," Skemp said.
(Editing by Kevin Gray)
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