Hydrokinetic power in Delaware

December 18th, 2008

Just last week I read an article about a hydrokinetic turbine manufacturer relocating to Delaware, UEK Delaware.  UEK stands for “Underwater Electric Kites,” and here’s their site, though pretty lame:

UEK Delaware

They’ve been around for a while and got a grant recently to take the next step towards a project in Delaware:

UEK Delaware gets DNREC grant

Water turbine plant coming to Delaware

Turbine maker moving to Sussex (into 80,000 square feet of… chicken houses?)

UEK will employ 40 at Frankford facility

The News Journal

A company that is developing water-powered electricity-generating turbines has announced plans to move its assembly plant from Annapolis, Md., to Sussex County.

UEK would hire up to 40 people at the outset, with the possibility of 100 workers total, said David O. Rickards, president of UEK Delaware, based in Frankford.

Before the deal is done, the company needs county approval to convert chicken houses into 80,000 square feet of assembly facilities near Frankford. With a host of international and United States contracts for the turbines, it has outgrown its prototype assembly space in Annapolis. It is working to fill contracts for turbines for sites in Uganda, Zambia, Chile, Brazil, Japan and Alaska and for an American Indian tribe in Maine, Rickards said. “We needed the assembly plant yesterday.”

The company also has a project under way to install a hydrokinetic turbine in the cooling-water intakes at the Indian River Power Plant, where the flowing water would generate electricity. That project may be up and running by June, Rickards said.

And it plans to relaunch soon a 5-year-old proposal to install the turbines at the bottom of the Indian River Inlet, to take advantage of the fast-moving waters there, he said. That project ran into opposition from fishermen and was dropped.

Rickards said he hopes to connect with local manufacturing firms for components including seals, bearings and chains so that UEK can focus on assembly.

The state gave final approval last week for a $52,440 grant from the Green Energy Fund toward installation of the turbines in the cooling intakes at the NRG Energy power plant on Indian River near Millsboro, Rickards said.

After that project proves its worth, he said, the company plans to market such turbines to the approximately 10,000 other facilities around the country that use cooling towers.

Even if just 5 percent of those facilities employ the turbines, the company expects it would need to ramp up assembly to the point where it would need to have about 100 workers on site.

When the NRG turbine is up and running, the company will be producing an educational video for schools — a requirement of the grant — and a marketing video for commercial purposes.

Rickards said he hopes to receive expedited county approval for his land-use application. Converting the old poultry houses would save him several hundred thousand dollars compared to renting smaller space in an existing industrial park, he said.

Here’s the turbine they make… but wait, it says on the site that several prototypes look promising, which to me means they don’t have one.

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