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Tidal turbines: New sparks of hope for green energy from beneath the waves

After decades of abandoned plans and crushed prototypes, tidal powers finds new footing off the shores of Eastport, Maine.

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An underwater generator developed by a Maine firm was tested on riverbeds and the seafloor.

Ocean Renewable Power Company

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Eastport is used to being on the fringe of things – the easternmost city in the United States, a remote outpost of Maine's poorest county, and one of the westernmost communities of the Bay of Fundy, home to the world's most dramatic tidal swings.

But in recent years, this community of 1,600 has found itself at the center of an industrial enterprise that its people thought had abandoned them for good: harnessing the tides to generate electricity. Amid Eastport's abandoned sardine factories and often-empty storefronts, engineers have been testing a new generation of tidal turbines that could power the region's homes and businesses without having an adverse effect on the environment, fisheries, or the beautiful views of the forested islands of neighboring Canada.

"It's the Kitty Hawk of tidal energy," says Chris Sauer, president of the Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), which has been testing its turbines in the surrounding waters for four years. "You can go anywhere in the world and people know about Eastport."

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