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


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

July 17th, 2008 by  

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

seagen tidal power turbine


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.

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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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