New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York County Politics Verdant Displays Latest Turbines on Roosevelt Island by Michael Rock

Verdant Displays Latest Turbines on Roosevelt Island

The borough of Manhattan just took another big step towards its eventual emission-free future.

Verdant Power, a manufacturer and installer of hydroelectric and tidal power systems, unveiled a demonstration of their fifth generation of turbines last Thursday near their headquarters on Roosevelt Island. 

The display is the latest stage of Verdant’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project: the first such tidal energy project licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It will continue for the next year.

John Banigan, Verdant’s CEO and CFO, spoke with New York County Politics to share his thoughts on the project’s progress.

“What we had before in generation four was essentially off-the-shelf componentry, and the generation 5 componentry was secured from our supply chain,” he beamed, noting that the turbines in the demonstration were nothing compared to their main products.

“If you look at the picture of the rotor, it is five meters in diameter. Large though it is, it’s not intended really to be a commercial product. It’s half scale. The commercial product, which will be used in tidal currents in oceans around the world, will be ten meters and larger.”

Banigan further explained that as the demonstration continues, Verdant will finalize and commercialize the full-sized turbines somewhere in 2023 to early 2024.

In order to cheapen the turbines’ deployment, they created triangular structures, called “TriFrames,” each of which contains three turbines. After six months of operation, Verdant plans to “retrieve and replace” the TriFrames with cranes and barges.

“Key to the economics of this technology is to periodically service and refurbish the turbines,” said Banigan. “While the turbines are expected to be effective for twenty, potentially 25 years, we have  what we refer to as a five year service interval where we pull the turbines out, refurbish them, and put them back in.”

During this timeframe, Verdant commits itself to ensuring that their turbines are compliant with the various relevant regulatory and resource agencies’ policies. 

“The first thing that most often comes up about our technology is whether or not it kills fish,” Banigan cited as an example. “What we have proven is the fish swim around our turbines. They don’t swim through them, so they are not a risk. We actually have video that shows fish heading toward turbines, and then they go right around it.”

Council Member Ben Kallos (Photo credit: council.nyc.gov)

Council Member Ben Kallos

Meanwhile, Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, East Harlem, Roosevelt Island), celebrated the latest development in Verdant’s RITE Project, expressing hope that it will inspire greater production and use of green energy in the city. “Expanding the ways our City gets renewable energy is a must,” he said. 

“I am proud to represent an area harnessing the power of the East River for energy,” said Kallos. “It is a brilliant idea that perhaps the rest of New York City can consider when deciding how to power our neighborhoods. If we are going to reach all of our environmental goals this is one way we can get there faster.” 

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