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Clean Power seagen tidal power turbine

Published on July 17th, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst

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World’s First Commercial-Scale Tidal Power Turbine Begins Feeding Electricity to the Grid




SeaGen more than four times the size of next largest tidal turbine

seagen tidal power turbine

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The world’s first commercial-scale tidal turbine, developed by British tidal energy company, Marine Current Turbines, has delivered electricity onto the grid for the first time. In principle, SeaGen works much like an “underwater windmill” with the rotors driven by the power of the tidal currents rather than the wind.

Conservative estimates suggest there is at least five gigawatts of power in tidal flows in Britain, but there could be as much as 15GW.

The tidal current turbine, known as SeaGen, has briefly generated 150kW of power onto the grid as part of its commissioning work, ahead of it achieving full capacity a few weeks from now. SeaGen’s power is being intentionally constrained to 300kW during the commissioning phase, but once fully operational, it will generate 1.2MW of clean, renewable energy to the equivalent of 1000 homes.

The chosen site for the installation, Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland has a very powerful (and very regular) tidal pull and is recognized as one of the main tidal “hotspots” in UK and Irish waters. Understandingly elated, Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said:

“This is an important milestone for the company and indeed the development of the marine renewable energy sector as a whole. The marine environment poses a number of unique technical challenges… so we are delighted that Marine Current Turbines has delivered yet another world-first in this sector. It’s a major technical break-through.”

Environmental groups have voiced support for the project. Robin Oakley, head of Greenpeace UK’s climate and energy campaign said, “Britain should be at the forefront of marine renewable energy development. Our windswept island has huge renewable resources and we should seize the opportunities to secure energy from around our coasts.”

Officials expect that the present testing and commissioning phase will be completed by the end of the summer when an official “switch on” will take place. Marine Current Turbines’ next undertaking, a 10.5 MW project off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales, is believed to be commissioned around 2011/2012.

Other Posts on SeaGen Tidal Power:

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.



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  • Brad

    why not put these high output tidel turbins in large ships and balast them to deeper water depths to maxamize water current to turbin ratio, moored to locations along Pacfic/Atlantic, large port areas such as the St. Johns River,Jax.Fla.?

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  • Power Engineer

    Assuming (as stated) 1.2MW each, and that USA consumed over 450GW in 2005, it would take 375,000 of these to power USA electrical needs, thus replacing dirty coal, less dirty gas fired, and other.

    Cost wise, it is not economical to do this.

    Nuclear is a better long term, zero green house gas emittor and economical option. Yes, nuclear is cost competitive with advanced coal with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). It is also cost competitive with natural gas with CCS with NG at $7/MCF (in July of 2008, NG was $13, but has dropped recently below $7, which shows cost volitility of this fuel (which is reflected back into electricity price 93%)

    Nuclear waste problems have been solved for some time, Europe is recycling spent nuclear fuel (96% recoverable) which reduces waste amounts and radioactivity problems. USA refuses to acknowledge this, claiming proliferation problems, thus USA stands as an example to the world, while the world is ignoring USA stupidity, and becomming oil independent, with economical and reliable base load electric power.

    Ocean tidal, ocean thermal difference, solar, and wind will remain niche, intermittant, energy resources, as they always have. They will continue to require a BACK UP power system to take over when the tides are not moving, the wind not blowing or the sun not shining. You pay for two power systems to get one result. The reality is that this can not be cheaper.

    ALL of these renewable resources do not directly produce one drop of oil. They will only offset oil consumption if electric technologies are employed in transportation sector.

    So, the engineering that has gone into this tidal power capture, is outstanding and has furthered our knowledge.

    I would not hold your breath for long lines to form wanting them to replace their cheaper electric power resources.

  • Power Engineer

    Assuming (as stated) 1.2MW each, and that USA consumed over 450GW in 2005, it would take 375,000 of these to power USA electrical needs, thus replacing dirty coal, less dirty gas fired, and other.

    Cost wise, it is not economical to do this.

    Nuclear is a better long term, zero green house gas emittor and economical option. Yes, nuclear is cost competitive with advanced coal with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). It is also cost competitive with natural gas with CCS with NG at $7/MCF (in July of 2008, NG was $13, but has dropped recently below $7, which shows cost volitility of this fuel (which is reflected back into electricity price 93%)

    Nuclear waste problems have been solved for some time, Europe is recycling spent nuclear fuel (96% recoverable) which reduces waste amounts and radioactivity problems. USA refuses to acknowledge this, claiming proliferation problems, thus USA stands as an example to the world, while the world is ignoring USA stupidity, and becomming oil independent, with economical and reliable base load electric power.

    Ocean tidal, ocean thermal difference, solar, and wind will remain niche, intermittant, energy resources, as they always have. They will continue to require a BACK UP power system to take over when the tides are not moving, the wind not blowing or the sun not shining. You pay for two power systems to get one result. The reality is that this can not be cheaper.

    ALL of these renewable resources do not directly produce one drop of oil. They will only offset oil consumption if electric technologies are employed in transportation sector.

    So, the engineering that has gone into this tidal power capture, is outstanding and has furthered our knowledge.

    I would not hold your breath for long lines to form wanting them to replace their cheaper electric power resources.

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  • VIJAIKUMAR

    Required project report for the tidal turban electricity project

  • VIJAIKUMAR

    Required project report for the tidal turban electricity project

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  • nimby

    I object to these things. Appart from the eyesore of these things clogging our enjoyment of the sea, there will be habitat disturbances. No doubt local recreational and commercial fishers will be impacted. Why should locals suffer to provide energy for populations far away?

    Better to invest in proven technologies like nuclear to combat climate myth, sorry, change and locate the power plants closer to the regional centers that use the power.

  • nimby

    I object to these things. Appart from the eyesore of these things clogging our enjoyment of the sea, there will be habitat disturbances. No doubt local recreational and commercial fishers will be impacted. Why should locals suffer to provide energy for populations far away?

    Better to invest in proven technologies like nuclear to combat climate myth, sorry, change and locate the power plants closer to the regional centers that use the power.

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  • johnny canuk

    In eastern Canada. They have been ‘working’ on this technology for decades. Partly because the Bay of Fundy has the biggest tidal waves in the world. Hopefully this project will motivate them to actually do something rather than burn a lot of hot air, which they are very good at, especially if it is coal based.

  • johnny canuk

    In eastern Canada. They have been ‘working’ on this technology for decades. Partly because the Bay of Fundy has the biggest tidal waves in the world. Hopefully this project will motivate them to actually do something rather than burn a lot of hot air, which they are very good at, especially if it is coal based.

  • toby johnson

    I wonder what the unforeseen consequences of this “clean” power will be. I don’t mean for this to be FUD, but there is no such thing as “free”. We are taking large amounts of kinetic energy from these tidal currents and using that energy for our own purposes. What if those currents serve a purpose that we don’t yet understand? What if we raise or lower the temperature of a particular section of ocean by a few degrees, thereby wiping out entire species or ecosystems? What if certain species require these currents to find food or to migrate?

    Again, not trying to sound alarmist here, just some food for thought.

  • toby johnson

    I wonder what the unforeseen consequences of this “clean” power will be. I don’t mean for this to be FUD, but there is no such thing as “free”. We are taking large amounts of kinetic energy from these tidal currents and using that energy for our own purposes. What if those currents serve a purpose that we don’t yet understand? What if we raise or lower the temperature of a particular section of ocean by a few degrees, thereby wiping out entire species or ecosystems? What if certain species require these currents to find food or to migrate?

    Again, not trying to sound alarmist here, just some food for thought.

  • chris

    Question, how many of these tidal turbines can be in one “area”? Is this turbine the first of many to come or do they have to find another location of sorts?

  • chris

    Question, how many of these tidal turbines can be in one “area”? Is this turbine the first of many to come or do they have to find another location of sorts?

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  • Bill Johnons

    Nice! Good to see someone looking to help the environment! This is LONG over due!

    JT

    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • Bill Johnons

    Nice! Good to see someone looking to help the environment! This is LONG over due!

    JT

    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

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  • http://www.brightfuture.us Tim

    This is a really important development, I think. I’ve always been troubled by the fact that tidal power has such potential, yet previous schemes such as the Rance all involve environmental degradation, as Hugh pointed out. Another problem I read was that tidal barrage systems (where the estuary is actually dammed) require a very large tidal range that is found in fewer than 50 known locations around the world. Does anyone know if the SeaGen requires similarly extreme tidal conditions? If not, it would greatly expand the potential of tidal power development.

    More on energy solutions to society’s most pressing challenges: http://www.brightfuture.us/new

  • http://www.brightfuture.us Tim

    This is a really important development, I think. I’ve always been troubled by the fact that tidal power has such potential, yet previous schemes such as the Rance all involve environmental degradation, as Hugh pointed out. Another problem I read was that tidal barrage systems (where the estuary is actually dammed) require a very large tidal range that is found in fewer than 50 known locations around the world. Does anyone know if the SeaGen requires similarly extreme tidal conditions? If not, it would greatly expand the potential of tidal power development.

    More on energy solutions to society’s most pressing challenges: http://www.brightfuture.us/new

  • http://ecopolitology.org Timothy B. Hurst

    Thanks, Hugh. And you are absolutely right about the Rance tidal power plant. I could have/should have been more clear that I was referring to a commercial-scale tidal power “turbine,” as opposed to “system.” I made a few edits to achieve that level of specificity. Thanks again for chiming-in.

  • http://ecopolitology.org Timothy B. Hurst

    Thanks, Hugh. And you are absolutely right about the Rance tidal power plant. I could have/should have been more clear that I was referring to a commercial-scale tidal power “turbine,” as opposed to “system.” I made a few edits to achieve that level of specificity. Thanks again for chiming-in.

  • Hugh kennedy

    Please refer to the River Rance Estuary tidal scheme in France. Average output around 68MW and it has been running for a very long time (40 years or so). the only difference is that this for relatively open water whilst the other involves damming an estuary which would have some effects on the local ecology.

  • Hugh kennedy

    Please refer to the River Rance Estuary tidal scheme in France. Average output around 68MW and it has been running for a very long time (40 years or so). the only difference is that this for relatively open water whilst the other involves damming an estuary which would have some effects on the local ecology.

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