M/s Marine Current Turbines will install its SeaGen commercial tidal energy system and it will begin operation during the week of August 20th in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough marine nature reserve. According to the company, the 1.2 megawatt (MW) capacity system will be the world's largest ever tidal current device once connected to the grid.
A commercial demonstration project with permission to operate in Strangford Lough for a period of up to 5 years, the installation of SeaGen this summer represents Phase 2 in a three-part company plan to develop full-scale commercial tidal farms.
"We will build on the success of SeaGen to develop a commercial tidal farm, of up to 10 MW in UK waters, within the next three years. With the right funding and regulatory framework, we believe we can realistically achieve up to 500 MW of tidal capacity by 2015 based on this new SeaGen technology," said Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Turbines.
Future turbines, which will generally be rated at from 750 to 1500 kilowatts (kW) per unit (depending on the local flow pattern and peak velocity), will be grouped under the sea, at places with high currents, in much the same way that wind turbines in a wind farm are set out in rows to catch the wind.
"SeaGen's installation is a very significant milestone for both Marine Current Turbines and the emerging marine energy," added Wright. "Following our previous experience with SeaFlow, our 300 kW experimental test system installed in 2003 off the north Devon coast, we are confident that SeaGen will show that tidal energy can be truly competitive with other forms of power generation. Decentralized tidal current energy is fundamentally predictable and sustainable."
The SeaGen 1.2 MW Commercial demonstrator consists of twin axial flow rotors, 15m to 20m in diameter, mounted on wing-like extensions on either side of a tubular steel monopile approximately three meters in diameter and set into a hole drilled into the seabed.