Marine Current Installs World's First Megawatt-scale Tidal Turbine

 Marine Current Turbines Ltd. (MCT, Bristol, U.K.) has completed the installation of its 1.2-MW SeaGen tidal energy system in Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland. There will be a 12-week commissioning and testing period before it starts regularly feeding power into the Northern Ireland grid. After the crane w

 Marine Current Turbines Ltd. (MCT, Bristol, U.K.) has completed the installation of its 1.2-MW SeaGen tidal energy system in Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland. There will be a 12-week commissioning and testing period before it starts regularly feeding power into the Northern Ireland grid.

After the crane was positioned by a heavy-lift crane barge in early April, there followed a six-week operation to secure the 1,000 metric ton (2.2 million lb) SeaGen structure to the seabed and establish SeaGen's grid connection to the electricity substation on the southern shore of Strangford Lough. Like wind-based turbine systems, SeaGen features turbine blades made from composites, in this case, combining both carbon- and glass-fiber reinforcement.

When fully operational, the tidal system's twin 16m/52-ft diameter rotors will operate 18 to 20 hours per day to produce enough electricity for 1,000 homes. This is reportedly four times more than the energy produced by any other tidal stream project completed to date, including MCT's earlier 300-kW Seaflow system, installed off Lynmouth in Devon, U.K., in 2003. ESB Independent Energy, the retail subsidiary of Ireland's ESB, has signed a power purchase agreement under which it will supply electricity produced by the SeaGen system to its customers.