A Portland renewable power company announced Tuesday that it has a deal with energy giant Shell for a Mississippi River demonstration project to generate electricity from river currents.

ORPC signed a contract with the Shell Technology-Marine Renewable Program for the purchase of the Maine company’s two next-generation Modular RivGen devices. They will be deployed next year as a technology demonstration at a Shell facility on the lower Mississippi River. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Modular RivGen device uses turbine technology to harness river currents and is designed to power infrastructure at lower velocity sites. A two-unit array was deployed in May on Millinocket Stream in Millinocket in partnership with Our Katahdin, a nonprofit organization that promotes community and economic development in the Katahdin region.

“We believe this is a real opportunity to scale our business rapidly and also be a point of excitement for our industry,” CEO Stuart Davies said in a video explaining the technology.

Renewable energy is often associated with solar and wind power, but water currents are a ” huge untapped resource,” he said.


“So you think about tidal energy. There’s nothing more predictable than the tides,” Davies said. “Knowing how much electricity every hour and minute of the day can really help support the grids of the future.”

Elaine Buck, technology manager at the Water Power Technologies office at the U.S. Department of Energy, said putting two systems side-by-side or atop each other can generate power from smaller streams for facilities or a microgrid. The project, funded in part by the DOE, is featured in a video produced by the agency, highlighting the Modular RivGen System’s potential to provide power to EV charging stations and critical infrastructure.

ORPC and the Department of Energy said in May that their collaborative project will showcase how ORPC’s hydrokinetic technology – energy generated by the movement of water – can provide predictable electricity to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The system can potentially support the electrification of Shell facilities, including providing power to electric vehicle chargers and other alternative fuels production, ORPC and Shell said.

With Louisiana State University, ORPC assessed three potential sites in the lower Mississippi River to showcase how its Modular RivGen Power System can provide renewable, predictable electricity on a kilowatt scale. ORPC is now conducting more detailed feasibility and resource assessments, geospatial analysis, and permitting and engineering work.

The company has successfully used its turbine system in remote parts of Alaska to harness electricity.

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