UNH Tidal Energy Cats (TECats) - Tidal Energy Conservation Co-Located with Estuarine Bridges for Coastal Infrastructure Resiliency
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UNH Tidal Energy Cats (TECats) - Tidal Energy Conservation Co-Located with Estuarine Bridges for Coastal Infrastructure Resiliency

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  • Description:
    Estuarine bridges could serve as ideal locations to deploy marine hydrokinetic (MHK) energy conversion systems. The hydrokinetic energy resource (water currents) is often strongest at the narrow locations where bridges are located. The bridge piers can serve as supporting structure for both the bridge and hydrokinetic turbines, reducing both support structure and deployment or installation costs. For standalone hydrokinetic energy systems, support structure and installation costs are a significant part of capital expenditure (Segura et al. 2017, Astariz et al. 2015). Further, the permitting process (Roberts et al. 2018) for the turbines can take advantage of the permitting work and various studies already required for bridge construction, thereby significantly reducing its cost. The integration of MHK energy conversion with estuarine bridges introduces resiliency to transportation​infrastructure for coastal communities. The most cost-effective way to develop this technology will be to proceed with integrated bridge pier-MHK turbine system configurations for new bridge construction, to be installed as aging estuarine bridges are replaced or new bridges are constructed. We believe that the key to keeping cost acceptable (CapEx) is to consider an integrated pier-MHK design from the bridge project programming and development stage. We envision pier-​turbine systems that will augment the locally available energy resource while providing attachment points and a bridge grid connection or on-site energy storage for modular turbine systems. By focusing on integrated systems that would be installed when existing bridge infrastructure is replaced, or when new bridges are constructed, this approach takes the “long view” of deploying marine energy conversion systems at an intermediate scale in a paradigm-​shifting way, with potential for cost-​competitive deployments at utility scale in the future.
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