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January 24, 2012

East River Energy

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A plan to harness the power of the East River's currents in New York City has received the green light it needed thanks to a commercial license issued yesterday by the federal government.

The project is designed to generate more than 1 megawatt of power for the thousands of residents living on Roosevelt Island between Manhattan and Queens. The renewable power source, known as tidal power, would come from turbines installed on the river's floor. Verdant, which has been working on the project since 2002 and has already installed a handful of turbines, wants 30 generators in the river by 2015.

It's a first-of-its-kind project and it is worth watching to see whether tidal power will become a viable force in the clean-energy sector. Judging by the video above, I'd hate to be a fish caught in a tidal power farm. However, in this video interview on GristTV at about the 3:50 mark, a Verdant representative says that there have been no problems. 

"The largest impact that is unavoidable is the fact that there are rotating blades that are heavy in the water," he says. Because of that "there's a concern of impact with fish, the physical striking of fish, and generally changing the ecosystem as a result. There are also diving birds here in the East River. Thus far we have not seen any negative effects on the ecosystem."

-- Brian Foley

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