Peter Fraenkel, technical director and co-founder of Marine Current Turbines (Bristol, U.K.), the company that designed and developed SeaGen, a commercial-scale tidal stream turbine, announced on Nov. 3 that SeaGen is running at full power and fully automatically. The tidal turbine system, located in the Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland, makes use of composites in some of its rotor systems (see link, right).
Fraenkel said: “We are delighted with SeaGen’s performance. It is running reliably and delivering more energy than originally expected in an extremely aggressive environment. It should be remembered it is being driven by a wall of water 27m deep, similar to the height of the Tower of London, that surges back and forth with every tide through the Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. We are getting more energy than expected mainly because the resource is more energetic than originally predicted during earlier surveys.”
SeaGen has delivered more than 350 MWh of power into the Northern Irish electricity grid. The twin generators typically produce an average of 5 MWh of electricity during the 6.25 hours of each ebb and each flood tide. This is enough energy to meet the average electricity needs for 1,500 U.K. homes.
The SeaGen turbine, with its twin 16m/52.5-ft diameter rotors, is officially accredited as a “UK power station,” the first tidal power system to secure this. It is earning revenue from the sale of the power that is being generated, and it also earns Renewable Obligation Certificates that are awarded for clean renewable generation.
Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Turbines, said, “We are delighted to have moved on from the initial period of commissioning and testing to demonstrating that 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.”
Wright added: “Building on our experience in Strangford Lough, the team at MCT are working to deploy tidal turbine arrays in U.K. and overseas waters, and we are working on new scaled-up developments from SeaGen that promise to generate power at a lower cost. The expectation is that this radical new technology can be developed within five to 10 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 U.K. industry with considerable world-wide export potential.”