ORONO, Maine — A $1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant will allow researchers at the University of Maine to continue developing environmental impact protocols at the site of a tidal-power turbine near Eastport and two other sites in Maine.
The Maine Tidal Power Initiative, which is in its second year and has now been awarded a total of $4 million in government and nongovernment funds, includes research in the Western Passage of the Cobscook Bay, where Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. has a working test turbine.
The Department of Energy grant also continues the educational component for undergraduate and graduate students, who have been involved since ORPC first began funding the initiative more than two years ago, according to a press release issued Tuesday.
The research will use baseline resource and environmental data for the Western Passage site for evaluating and monitoring the development of tidal energy in those areas.
Among the information researchers are seeking is how much energy can be removed from tidal circulation in sites such as Cobscook Bay and the environmental effects of the turbines on fish and other sea life.
Michael “Mick” Peterson, a professor in the department of energy who is heading up the research team, said in the press release that some of the most recent research data on fish in the area near the Cobscook Bay dates back to 1972.
“The ecosystem has changed dramatically when you start talking about how fisheries have changed,” he said.
The grant also provides funds for work on the modeling and testing of the open-source Maine Tidal Turbine in both the laboratory and the field, and the evaluation of the small-scale tidal energy site in the Bagaduce River, along with initial assessment of a site in the Sheepscot estuary near Wiscasset.