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Tidal Power Turbines Producing More Energy Than Expected

Date: 18-Nov-09
Country: UK
Author: Timothy Hurst - Matter Network

Speaking recently at the Lisbon International Ocean Power Conference, Peter Fraenkel, Technical Director and co-founder of Marine Current Turbines (MCT), the UK-based company that designed and developed SeaGen, the world's only commercial scale tidal stream turbine, told delegates that "We are delighted with SeaGen's performance. It is running reliably and delivering more energy than originally expected in an extremely aggressive environment."

The turbines are powered by a consistent tidal current that surges back and forth with every tide through the Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour.

The twin generators typically produce an average of 5MWh of electricity during the 6.25 hours of each ebb and each flood tide, enough energy to meet the average electricity needs for 1500 UK homes. SeaGen has already delivered over 350MWh of power into the electricity grid of Northern Ireland.

"We are getting more energy than expected mainly because the resource is more energetic than originally predicted during earlier surveys," added Fraenkel.

Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines, commented: "...this is a practical method of generation that really does do exactly what it says on the label. It is a hugely significant milestone for the company to be selling electricity consistently and earning revenue."

Although SeaGen has been operational for most of this year, it was not until September that consent was given to operate without needing to have marine mammal observers on board and onshore. According to MCT, extensive data collected so far suggests the seals and porpoises are "not at any significant risk" and as a result SeaGen is now permitted to operate unattended and by remote control, as was originally intended.

Martin Wright added: "The expectation is that this radical new technology can be developed within five to ten years to make a significant contribution to our future energy needs. Given suitable market incentives, SeaGen demonstrates that marine renewable energy is at the cusp of forming the basis for a new UK industry with considerable world-wide export potential."

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