Proponents say that ocean energy is preferable to wind because tides are constant and predictable and that water’s natural density requires fewer turbines than are needed to produce the same amount of wind power. Given the difficulty and cost of building tidal arrays at sea and getting the energy back to land, however, ocean technologies are still young and mostly experimental. But as the industry matures, costs will drop and some analysts think the ocean could power nearly two percent of U.S. energy needs. Several companies now work at the cutting edge of ocean power technology. Scotland’s Ocean Power Delivery Ltd. has a wave system called Pelamis that it hopes to install in waters off of California’s wave-battered central coast. And Seattle, Washington’s Aqua Energy has installations off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia and is in talks with utilities about providing the Pacific Northwest with hundreds of megawatts of ocean energy within the next decade. Tidal energy pioneers are also hard at work on the U.S. Atlantic coast. The New Hampshire Tidal Energy Company is developing tidal power in the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine. And a company called Verdant Power is providing Long Island City, New York with electricity through tidal river turbines and has begun installation of tidal power systems in New York City’s East River.
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