Marine power systems developer Ocean Renewable Power Co. has received a $3.6 million federal grant to help refine a technology that converts a river’s kinetic energy into electricity.

The money from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office will be used to build, test and operate a modular current energy converter, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the office of Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, D-1st District.

“Current energy conversion systems offer immense potential in Maine, where our rivers are great in number and great in strength,” Pingree said in a statement. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee and a longtime advocate for funding for this program, I’m proud that this large grant is coming to Ocean Renewable Power Company at a critical moment.”

The Portland-based company, often referred to as ORPC, develops underwater power systems for use in free-flowing tidal and river sites and is active in North American, South American and European markets. In addition to operating a commercial river power project for the village of Igiugig, Alaska, ORPC is also working in Eastport and False Pass, Alaska, on smart microgrid projects that use tidal energy.

“ORPC is thrilled with today’s announcement from DOE,” said Stuart Davies, the company’s chief executive. “Advancing this technology platform is aligned with our company’s aggressive goals to develop cost-effective solutions that will enable broad market adoption.”

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