The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has reportedly unveiled a $35 million package for the advancement of river currents and tidal energy systems, in a move aimed at augmenting the sector that currently has a small footprint.
In an official statement, the DOE outlined the move by highlighting that the funding opportunity represents the biggest investment made in the country for river current and tidal energy technologies.
The agency has proposed establishing a river current or tidal R&D and demonstration facility as well as supporting the in-water demo of at least one tidal energy system.
The funding will be backed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The US has been making significant advancements in tidal power-related projects in recent years.
Last year, a tidal turbine, called the world’s most powerful, began grid-connected power generation in Orkney, Scotland, at the European Marine Energy Centre.
Earlier in May, a $5.18 million site was officially opened in the UK for testing tidal turbine blades in tough conditions, in the hopes of accelerating marine energy technology development and reducing costs.
But even amidst the excitement for the potential of renewable technologies like tidal, the DOE acknowledged that major challenges lied ahead in terms of scaling.
It stated that the tidal and river current energy industry in the country needs long-term and substantial capital to scale up from testing devices one at a time to building a commercial facility.
DOE also stated that the complication of installing devices and directing permitting processes, along with the lack of connections with local power grids, are proving to be major obstacles in further developing river current and tidal energy.
In 2019, the river current and tidal resources in the country could account for 7.8% of the power generated in the country.
Currently, the US relies heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation, accounting for 60.8% of total utility-scale electricity that was generated last year, followed by renewables (20.1%) and nuclear (18.9%), as per the figures by the US Energy Information Administration.