BOCA RATON, Fla. (March 10, 2014) – FAU’s SNMREC recently conducted the first at-sea tests of its ocean current research turbine offshore Fort Pierce. Two, one-hour tow tests provided researchers with new data on the turbine’s behavior for further design, development and validation.
Ocean Energy in FL Straits
The Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center is focused on the two main forms of energy that occur offshore Southeast Florida, in the channel between Florida and the Bahamas. These are the marine hydrokinetic energy of open-ocean currents—the Florida Current part of the Gulf Stream system—and ocean thermal energy.
Although the Florida Current flows at speeds generally less than 5 nautical miles per hour—knots—it has the power of a gale-force wind, because the water is so much heavier than air. This suggests that capturing and converting that energy has the same potential as wind energy conversion.
And work at the SNMREC has revealed an interesting potential for ocean thermal energy conversion in the Straits of Florida as well. The surface water is quite warm, year-round, and there is also a source of cold water just offshore.
By harnessing these forms of renewable ocean energy, it may be possible to replace existing nuclear and fossil-fuel generating stations with clean energy for the future.