Sunday, March 23, 2008

First Commercial Tidal Stream Turbine Installed

I just read an article from which caught my attention immediately. Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines (MCT) is ready to install its 1.2MW SeaGen Tidal System in Strangford Narrows, Northern Ireland on Easter Monday. This tidal stream turbine will produce enough clean energy for 1000 homes (when fully operational). According to Green Energy News, "this will be the first, commercial scale, tidal stream turbine installed and operating anywhere in the world. It will generate one of the most environmentally-friendly forms of energy - it makes no noise, is almost completely below the surface, never runs out and has zero emissions." Additionally, the turbine will have the ability to be lifted out of the water for maintenance, which would be very useful during strong currents.

I remember on of Dr. Webber's slides he showed a figure that displayed high tidal energy locations throughout the world. Ireland and surrounding countries were included in one of several high tidal energy locations. What I find intriguing about this technology are the many possibilities that underwater turbines possess. Even though tidal energy is intermittent, it is predictable and the U.S. does have many costal resources, such as in Alaska and along upper New England. Since areas such as Alaska and upper New England don't have very good solar producing capacities, tidal energy in those locations would provide a significant clean sustainable energy. Just think of all those crab fishing shows that are on The Discovery Channel these days (which are all shot in the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and Atlantic Ocean near New Foundland). Those powerful waves that crab fishermen fight off could potentially provide usefulness trough underwater tidal stream turbines.

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