SBIR-STTR-Success: ORPC, Inc.
In many remote communities, the only opportunity for electricity comes from diesel-powered microgrids. At up to fifteen times the cost of normal electricity, this highly expensive form of power has rendered the need for a lower cost and cleaner fuel alternative. With federal funding provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture/U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy, Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has developed a marine hydrokinetic technology solution, and it’s gaining worldwide demand thanks to projects in Alaska, Europe and Canada.
The RivGen® Power System is one of the company’s flagship products, and it utilizes a turbine generator unit (TGU), developed with the help of the NIFA/ USDA and DOE SBIR program.
The TGU is ORPC’s core technology that is contained within every system they have built. The TGU is modeled after the classic paddle wheel, and it generates clean, reliable, renewable electricity by harnessing the energy of the world’s river and ocean currents. Rather than relying on dams, which can be costly and damaging to environments, the kinetic energy of currents is captured by hydrokinetic power systems.
The RivGen® Power System was first deployed in 2014 in Igiugig, Alaska, with a population of just 56 residents. ORPC returned to Igiugig in 2015 with an improved RivGen® Power System to demonstrate its latest technology advancements and, in the process, supplied one-third of the community’s electrical load. A new version of the RivGen® System is expected to be deployed in Igiugig in the summer of 2019.