CLAIRE BATES, The Daily Mail, July 17, 2008
The £10million SeaGen turbine based in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough generated enough green energy to supply 150 homes in a test. Full-blown production is expected in a few weeks’ time.
The SeaGen in Strangford Lough will generate 1.2 megawatts of power at full capacity
Working like an underwater windmill, the turbine’s two rotors are propelled by some of the world’s fastest tidal flows that stream in and out of the Lough at speeds of up to 8 knots.
It is moored to the sea floor 400 metres from the shore and will work for about 20 hours each day. No energy is generated during tide changes as tidal speed drops to below 2 knots.
The SeaGen has two rotors that will revolve 10 to 15 times a minute
Once fully operational Seagen, run by Marine Current Turbines (MCT) Ltd, will generate 1.2 megawatts of hydropower, supplying the equivalent of 1,000 homes.
Managing director Martin Wright said: ‘This is an important milestone for the company and indeed the development of the marine renewable energy sector as a whole.
‘SeaGen, MCT, tidal power and the UK Government’s push for marine renewables all now have real momentum.’
Tidal energy is generated by the relative motion of the Earth, Sun and Moon, which interact via gravitational forces.
Although more expensive to develop it is far more predictable than wind energy or solar power.
Energy Secretary John Hutton said: ‘This kind of world-first technology and innovation is key to helping the UK reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and secure its future energy supplies.
‘Marine power has the potential to play an important role in helping us meet our challenging targets for a massive increase in the amount of energy generated from renewables.’
Strangford is a breeding ground for common seals, but the company said the speed of the rotors is so low – no more than 10 to 15 revolutions per minute – that they are unlikely to pose a threat to marine wildlife.