Experimental underwater windmills will be installed in New York City’s East River during the next weeks to begin generating power utilizing the non-stop action of the tides. Enthusiasts of the new environmentally friendly hydropower say the machines generate electricity without the problems associated with wind power. The scenery is not dotted with turbines and engineers say the low-rpm movement from the blades does not harm marine life. Unlike hydro-electric dams, which dramatically alter spawning populations of fish, this instream technology allows fish and mammals to "easily swim around" the turbines. . . The 18-month test project will produce up to 200 kilowatts at peak capacity, enough to power a nearby supermarket and parking garage. The next stage, in 2010, would use "up to 300 improved turbines generating enough power for 8,000 New York homes."
The developer is Verdant Power of Virginia, a sustainable-energy company launched in 2000 that believes its systems can be adapted to provide other community-based services, such as irrigation, desalinization, creating potable water, oxygenating anoxic waters, and producing hydrogen through electrolysis. There is interest in Canada and Brazil, where the company is scouting locations in the Amazon basin for river turbines to replace diesel generators that power 1,000 villages.