ELLSWORTH, Maine ó The waves and tidal currents off the coast of Maine represent a vast, largely untapped energy resource capable of producing more than 15 trillion watts of electricity per year, according to two federal reports.
Maineís turbulent oceans and surging tidal rivers have long been regarded as enormous pools of renewable energy. Two recent reports from the U.S. Department of Energy attempt to attach a figure to that potential in Maine and across the country as both policymakers and energy developers seek new, more environmentally friendly ways to meet the nationís energy demands.
The two separate assessments of potential wave energy and tidal energy sources in Maine determined that if developed to their maximum potential those sources could contribute more than 15 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. Nationwide, the total theoretical generation capacity was more than 1,400 terawatt-hours per year, which is roughly one-third of the nationís annual electricity use.
Federal officials acknowledged that those are theoretical figures and that not all the potential resources could realistically be tapped. But they said the reports showed the potential for expanding the nationís use of hydropower of all types to generate electricity ó and that Maine could play a major role in that expansion.