Since its inception, we have been keeping a close eye on Marine Current Turbine’s SeaGen project in the UK, the world’s first commercial scale tidal stream turbine. Well, today there is more big news to report from the strong tidal flows of Strangford Lough as SeaGen has generated at its maximum capacity of 1.2MW for the first time. Thus far, this is the highest power produced by a tidal stream system anywhere in the world and exceeds the previous highest output of 300kW produced in 2004 by the company’s earlier SeaFlow system, off the north Devon coast.
“Generating at full power is an important milestone for the company, and in particular our in-house engineering team. We are very pleased with SeaGen’s performance during commissioning,” said Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines (MCT). “It demonstrates, for the first time, the commercial potential of tidal energy as a viable alternative source of renewable energy.”
According to company officials, now that SeaGen has reached full power it will move towards full-operating mode for periods of up to 22 hours a day, with regular inspections and performance testing undertaken as part of the project’s development program.
“Marine Current Turbines has pioneered the development of tidal current turbines. As the first mover in tidal stream turbine development, we have a significant technical lead over all rival tidal technologies that are under development,” rightfully boasted Wright. “There are no other tidal turbines of truly commercial scale; all the competitive systems so far tested at sea are quite small, most being less than 10% the rotor area of SeaGen.”
Drawing on its experience at Strangford Lough, MCT’s next project is a joint initiative with npower renewables to build a 10.5MW project using seven SeaGen turbines off the coast of north Wales. That project is scheduled to come online in late 2011/early 2012.
The company is also investigating the potential for tidal energy schemes in other parts of the UK and Ireland, and in North America.
Image courtesy of Marine Current Turbines