CEI Stories

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March 22, 2017

Ocean Renewable Power Company

Kvichak River, Igiugig, Alaska

Bringing power to rural, off-grid locations presents formidable challenges. There’s a reason these communities can still lack reliable and affordable power nearly 150 years after the first electric power grid was created. Since 2004, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has addressed this challenge with a series of increasingly innovative marine hydrokinetic turbines. ORPC successfully harnessed the powerful tides at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, generated power from the remote Kvichak River for the community of Igiugig in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, and is now scaling up to commercialization through a series of marine hydrokinetic tidal and river projects in northern Quebec’s Nunavik region.

For over ten years, ORPC has stayed true to its founding principles: partner with local communities and develop power systems that do not harm the marine environment.

Local contractors and ORPC team members in Igiugig, Alaska.

“By soliciting ideas from local communities, we build trust and our projects are inherently more likely to succeed. It can be a long and sometimes circuitous process, but in the end local partnerships pay huge dividends.”

–Chris Sauer, Co-Founder and CEO of ORPC

Part of the commitment to rural coastal communities is ensuring that fish and other marine life, which provide sustenance and economic activity, are not harmed. For example, Alaska’s Igiugig region produces the world’s largest supply of sockeye salmon. “We’ve had to prove, again and again, that our technologies don’t harm fish,” said Chris. “We’ve now got years of data demonstrating they do not negatively impact fish populations. That’s key for any community where we’re going to locate a project.”

ORPC has been through eleven deployments and five generations of its proprietary technology. “We had to work through a lot of reliability issues,” said Chris. “We have access to super computers through Penn State Applied Research Lab which has allowed us to develop critical analytical tools and 3D models.”

Power system on station in Kvichak River, Igiugig, Alaska.

Financing is another critical element of ORPC’s success. “We’ve gone to CEI twice now for financing and both times secured financing that was absolutely crucial to our survival,” noted Chris. The most recent round is a $750k working capital loan to sustain the company through the final stages of commercializing its marine hydrokinetic power systems and the initial project in northern Quebec.

“This financing addressed a need that was critical and immediate. Without it, I can honestly say we probably wouldn’t be here.”

–Chris Sauer, Co-Founder and CEO of ORPC

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