Are Tides And Waves The Missing Piece Of The Green Energy Puzzle?

By Alexander C. Kaufman.

On a foggy October afternoon, a strange vessel chugged slowly through the East River’s mist toward Roosevelt Island.

It looked almost like it was upside down: three 16-foot rotors, attached on a triangular metal base, sat motionless atop the deck of the rusted barge. They resembled propellers, but weren’t there to give the boat thrust. Instead, they’d be sent overboard, craned gingerly into the depths of the tidal flat that stretches from just east of Manhattan to the western shore of Queens. All you can see from the surface is a set of six bobbing white buoys, but about 30 feet down the turbines are harvesting the kinetic energy of tides to produce electricity.

Verdant Energy’s East River project will generate just enough electricity to power 500 homes in the nation’s largest city, but it marks one of the first serious attempts in the United States to jump-start what could be a multibillion-dollar industry of tidal energy. More than a dozen states, including New York, have passed laws mandating zero-carbon electricity as a way to slow global warming.