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Bourne Tidal Turbine Test Site Awarded FERC License; First in the U.S.

Photo of Bourne Tidal Test Site (BTTS), Cape Cod Canal, Massachusetts

Bourne Tidal Test Site (BTTS), Cape Cod Canal, Massachusetts

April 23, 2024


Stephen Barrett

Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts – April 17, 2024

The Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) has been awarded an 8-year pilot license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to test marine renewable energy- generating tidal turbines at the Bourne Tidal Test Site in Bourne, Massachusetts. The Bourne Tidal Test Site (BTTS) is the only tidal test site in the U.S. to have obtained such a license. This license allows turbines to generate renewable electricity directly to the grid.

BTTS provides tidal turbine developers an unmatched capability for testing prototypes up to 3 meters in diameter. The FERC license will allow the test site operator, MRECo, to manage the testing of tidal turbines in the fast moving ocean waters of the Cape Cod Canal. Aspects of the testing include turbine efficiency, generation capacity, durability, and potential environmental effects.

Developing new turbine technologies in very challenging and costly. University test tanks can only test small prototypes and components of less than one meter. Testing large devices in the ocean requires extensive permitting that is costly and time consuming. This has slowed development of new technologies. The BTTS was designed to solve this problem.

The BTTS was designed and constructed with Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council funding to address the test site shortage. It has a fixed test stand without the flow disruption resulting from testing off of barges or bulkheads. A lifting arm enables easy access for tidal turbines while the stability allows better accuracy from sensor. It is the only test site with these capabilities in the U.S. and perhaps the world.

MRECo is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the sustainable development of ocean renewable energy. MRECo is also advancing testing of wave energy generators in Massachusetts water. It has been estimated that tidal energy could provide one tenth of the world’s electricity needs and Massachusetts waters could generate the equivalent of a nuclear power plant. Tidal energy has been shown to have minimal impact on the environment because the blades turn slowly and placed on the ocean bottom has no visible impact on coastal beaches.

John Miller, the MRECo Executive Director, noted, “To meet climate change challenges, we need all the sources of renewable energy available. Tidal energy is an important piece of the mix because it is reliable, predictable, and available along coasts where population densities are highest. New England has the intellectual capital available in its universities to lead in developing this source and BTTS provides a critical tool. Thirty years ago Professor Gorlov from Northeastern University invented a new type of turbine with helical blades and tested it at the site where BTTS is located. That technology has been commercialized and is being deployed in Alaska and exported to Chile. Its time for the next generation and we are ready.”

BTTS photo


Turbine Testing photo

Turbine Testing

Sensor Testing - Acoustic Imaging

Sensor Testing - Acoustic Imaging photo


BTTS also hosts the Marine Observatory for Sensor Testing (MOST), a site that allows cost effective long term testing of ocean sensors.


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The New England Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) is a nonprofit corporation that educates and involves all stakeholders (Academic, industry, governmental/regulatory, and public interest groups) to promote the sustainable development of renewable energy in New England ocean waters.

To do this, MRECo must establish:

Download a copy of our new BTTS brochure!

Updated 12/2/2017!

  • Processes and relationships to allow effective transfer of technology from universities to industry.
  •  A world class academic consortium to train the workforce of the future and to assist industry with basic and applied research.
  • An industry user group to elicit research needs and to assist in advocating.
  • Permanent ocean test sites to facilitate research and demonstration.
  • Involvement of public interest groups to minimize ocean ecosystem impact.

News of Interest!

Yahoo News logo

Nonprofit secures license to test 'minimal impact' tide-powered turbines: 'Reliable, predictable, and available'

Cape Cod Times logo

Cape Cod Times –  May 13, 2024

Harnessing the tides. Cape Cod Canal site gets federal OK to test water-powered turbines

A U.S. Coast Guard boat steams past in 2021 as workers prepare to deploy a tidal turbine onto a lift arm on a platform just west of the railroad bridge on the Cape Cod Canal in Buzzards Bay. The site is used to test technology that would allow tidal waters to produce electric power.

Cape Codders and Islanders know about harnessing ocean winds to create renewable energy.

The region has become a pioneer with the nation's first large-scale offshore wind farm — Vineyard Wind.

Now Cape Cod may be on the cusp of being a national trail blazer for another green technology, one that uses the power of the ocean itself — and, by extension, the moon — to make electricity.

Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative, a Marion nonprofit that promotes sustainable development of renewable energy in New England ocean waters, has secured an 8-year pilot license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to test prototypes of turbines that harness tides to create energy.

[ Read the complete story. >>> ]

Read more news. >>>

Download MRECo Informational Flyers

L to R, C. Eben Franks (Test Director), John Miller (Executive Director), Alejandro Moreno (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy), David Vieira (State Rep), Maggie Merrill (Communications Director).

L to R, C. Eben Franks (Test Dirctor), John Miller (Executive Director), Alejandro Moreno (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy), David Vieira (State Rep), Maggie Merrill (Communications Director).

MRECo works with students, interns and STEM projects.

MRECo Seeks Funding for Students, Interns and STEM Project
In keeping with our outreach strategy, we are spreading the word to educate the public and engage more students via STEM, internships and student projects at the Bourne Tidal Test Site.

In keeping with our outreach strategy, we are spreading the word to educate the public and engage more students via STEM, internships and student projects at the Bourne Tidal Test Site. Funding is challenging in this nascent industry, therefore crowd funding for these items has become an option. Please take a look at us on Chuffed.org (https://chuffed.org/project/ocean-energy-for-new-england#) and consider making a donation of whatever size to show your support for clean renewable ocean energy education and development right here in New England. Thank you!

MRECo focuses on helping companies and universities get technology into the ocean... test tanks and flumes are critical to development, but we have to get "steel into the water" to understand the impacts of turbines on the environment and the environment on the technology.



The purpose of  the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) of New England is to foster the sustainable growth of marine renewable energy (Offshore wind, wave and tide) through Education, Collaboration, and Demonstration. [ learn more ]


The Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) of New England envisions a future where New England obtains a significant, greater than 5%, of its power from reliable and predictable ocean based renewable energy technologies, and supports the infrastructure for testing that allows the cost effective, rapid commercialization of new sustainable technologies being developed by the rich entrepreneurial environment of the region.

Contact us today to for more information about membership or any other questions you might have.

BTTS installation, Nov. 2017Check out our gallery from the November 2017 BTTS installation.


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