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Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

EMMA JACKSON, UniversityWorldNews, March 15, 2009

aquamarine-power_fb8xa_69A research team at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland has renewed a relationship with Aquamarine Power, a leading marine technology energy company. Together they may create the next generation of wave power converters that could some day be an alternative source of power for European maritime states. 

This five-year deal will focus on perfecting a so-called ‘Oyster’ wave power device which the university’s Wave Power Research Team and Aquamarine Power created between 2005 and 2008. 

Professor Trevor Whittaker, who leads the research team at Queen’s, says the next generation of Oyster would be the precursor to a commercially -viable model that could produce alternative power for much of the UK with its long coastline. 

The Oyster device is designed to capture the energy found in near-shore waves, which is then sent to a seaside converter to be made into hydroelectric power. 

Whittaker said the deal would be indispensable for both partners. While Aquamarine Power would have the benefit of using some of the field”s leading experts and their research, the university would benefit from financial support and hands-on experience for its PhD students.

Whittaker said the team from Aquamarine would rent the university’s state-of-the-art wave tanks to test several models, creating income for the university. Aquamarine also agreed to provide funding for two full-time staff members at the research facility: a senior research fellow, and a technician. 

He said the programme’s PhD students would be able to see their research, their academic work, being used for something. “When they write their theses, they don’t just sit on a shelf. We’re doing applied research that is benefiting humanity directly.”

The team will monitor survivability and watch how the devices interact with each other to guarantee continuous power output in all sea states. Whittaker said commercial wave power was still “in its infancy,” but Oyster Two, which would form the basis of any commercial model, would be ready by 2011.

Its predecessor, Oyster One, will be launched at sea for testing this summer at the European Marine Energy Centre off the coast of north-east Scotland’s Orkney Isles. 

Dr Ronan Doherty, Aquamarine’s Chief Technical Officer, said the UK Carbon Trust had estimated that up to 20% of current UK electricity demand could be met by wave and tidal stream energy, with the majority being in coastal communities.

“World leading facilities and researchers at Queen’s enable Aquamarine Power to not only peruse the industrial design of our products in a detailed way, but it is also the source of constant innovation and challenge resulting from their blue sky thinking and fundamental research,” Doherty said.

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Publisher’s Note:  Feb 09, 2009 – Not only has Finavera surrendered their Makah Bay license noted below, they also announced surrendering the Humboldt County, California Preliminary Permit to explore wave energy:

“Finavera Renewables has filed applications to surrender its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the Makah Bay Wave Energy Pilot Project in Washington and the Humboldt County Preliminary Permit for a proposed wave energy project in California.”

MendoCoastCurrent readers may recall Finavera’s inability to secure CPUC funding for the Humboldt project; noted below capitalization, financial climate as key reasons in these actions.

MendoCoastCurrent, February 6, 2009

finavera-wavepark-graphicToday Finavera Renewables surrendered their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Makah Bay, Washington wave energy project license, commenting that the Makah Bay Finavera project “never emerged from the planning stages.”

And “due to the current economic climate and the restrictions on capital necessary to continue development of this early-stage experimental Project, the Project has become uneconomic.  Efforts by Finavera to transfer the license were not successful.  Therefore, Finavera respectfully requests that the <FERC> Commission allow it to surrender its license for the Project. ”

Back in early 2007, Finavera’s Makah Bay project looked like it would become the first U.S. and west coast project deployment of wave energy devices.  And this project also had a unique status based on Native American Indian land/coastal waters, so the rules of FERC, MMS were different due to sovereign status.

Then AquaBuoy, Finavera’s premier wave energy device, sank off the Oregon coast due to a bilge pump failure in late October 2007.  

Recently noted was Finavera’s comment that they are currently focusing their renewable energy efforts toward wind energy projects closer to their homebase in British Columbia, Canada and in Ireland.

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Bloomberg via The Economic Times, February 2, 2009

corrannarrowsl_901581LONDON: Three decades ago, engineer Peter Fraenkel created an underwater turbine to use river power to pump water in Sudan, where he worked for a charity. Civil war and a lack of funding stymied his plans. Now, his modified design generates electricity from tides off Northern Ireland.

“In the 1970s, the big snag was the market for that technology consisted of people with no money,” said Fraenkel, the 67-year-old co-founder of closely-held Marine Current Turbines. “Now it’s clear governments are gagging for new renewable energy technology.”

MCT last year installed the world’s biggest grid-connected tidal power station in Strangford Lough, an Irish Sea inlet southeast of Belfast. The SeaGen project’s two turbines, which cost 2.5 million pounds ($3.6 million), can produce as much as 1.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1,140 homes. The company is one of more than 30 trying to tap tidal currents around the world, six years after the first project sent power to the grid.

Investors may pump 2.5 billion pounds into similar plants in Europe by 2020 as the European Union offers incentives for projects that don’t release carbon dioxide, the gas primarily blamed for global warming. In the US, President Barack Obama plans to increase tax breaks for renewable energy.

“Tidal energy has an enormous future, and the UK has a great resource” if construction costs come down, said Hugo Chandler, renewable energy analyst at the Paris-based International Energy Agency, which advises 28 nations. “It’s time may be just around the corner.”

While tides are a free source of energy, generating power from them is three times more expensive than using natural gas or coal over the life of a project, according to the Carbon Trust, a UK government-funded research unit.

Including capital expenses, fuel and maintenance, UK tidal current power costs 15 pence per kilowatt hour, compared with 5 pence for coal and gas and 7 pence for wind, the trust says.

Designing equipment to survive in salty, corrosive water and installing it in fast-moving currents boosts startup costs, said MCT Managing Director Martin Wright, who founded the Bristol, England-based company with Fraenkel in 2002. MCT raised 30 million pounds for SeaGen and pilot projects, he said, declining to break out the expenses.

Gearboxes and generators have to be watertight. The machinery must withstand flows up to 9.3 knots (10.7 mph) in Strangford Lough, which exert three times the force of projects that harness wind at similar speeds, Fraenkel said.

“The forces you’re trying to tap into are your enemy when it comes to engineering the structure,” said Angela Robotham, MCT’s 54-year-old engineering chief.

The project consists of a 41-meter (135-foot) tower with a 29-meter crossbeam that is raised from the sea for maintenance. Attached to the beam are two rotors to capture incoming and outgoing flows. The turbines convert the energy from tidal flows into electricity, differing from more established “tidal range” technology that uses the rise and fall of water.

Positioned between the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the British Isles have about 15% of the world’s usable tidal current resources, which could generate 5% of domestic electricity demand, the Carbon Trust estimates. Including wave power, the ocean may eventually meet 20 percent of the UK’s energy needs, the government said in June.

OpenHydro, a closely held Dublin company, linked a donut-shaped device with less than a quarter of the capacity of SeaGen to the grid at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland, last May.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 23, 2009

Marine Current Turbines Ltd, the Bristol based UK tidal energy company, in now in partnership Canada’s Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Ltd to demonstrate and develop tidal power technology and facilities in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited (MBPP) of Hantsport, Nova Scotia is a leading sustainable energy and resources company.

Working in partnership with MBPP, Marine Current Turbines (MCT) will participate in the tidal power demonstration centre established by the Province of Nova Scotia. MBPP and MCT intend to deploy a 1.5MW tidal generator when the in-stream tidal energy centre enters full operation and is connected to the Nova Scotia grid. 

MCT installed the world’s first offshore tidal current device in 2003 off the south west coast of England (the 300kW SeaFlow) and during 2008, it installed and commissioned its 1.2MW SeaGen commercial prototype tidal current turbine in Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland. SeaGen generated at its full output of 1.2MW onto the local grid in December 2008, becoming the most powerful marine energy device in the world. It has the capacity to generate power for approximately 1,000 homes. 

Notes on the SeaGen Technology from MCT: SeaGen works by generating power from sea currents, using a pair of axial flow turbines driving generators through gearboxes using similar principles to wind generator technology. The main difference is that the high density of seawater compared to wind allows a much smaller system; SeaGen has twin 600kW turbines each of 16m diameter. The capture of kinetic energy from a water current, much like with wind energy or solar energy, depends on how many square meters of flow cross-section can be addressed by the system. With water current turbines it is rotor swept area that dictates energy capture capability, because it is the cross section of flow that is intercepted which matters. SeaGen has over 400 square meters of rotor area which is why it can develop its full rated power of 1.2MW in a flow of 2.4m/s (5 knots).

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BBC News, December 18, 2008

_45310426_43017507A tidal turbine near the mouth of Strangford Lough has begun producing electricity at full capacity for the first time.  The SeaGen system now generates 1.2MW, the highest level of power produced by a tidal stream system anywhere in the world.

The system works like an “underwater windmill” but with rotors driven by tidal currents rather than the wind.

It has been undergoing commissioning trials since May.

SeaGen will now move towards full-operating mode for periods of up to 22 hours a day, with regular inspections and performance testing carried out.

The power generated by the system is being purchased by Irish energy company, ESB Independent, for its customers in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The turbine has the capacity to generate power to meet the average electricity needs of around 1000 homes.

Martin Wright, managing director of SeaGen developers, Marine Current Turbines, said that having the system generating at full power was an important milestone.

“It demonstrates, for the first time, the commercial potential of tidal energy as a viable alternative source of renewable energy,” he said.

“As the first mover in tidal stream turbine development, we have a significant technical lead over all rival tidal technologies that are under development.

“There are no other tidal turbines of truly commercial scale; all the competitive systems so far tested at sea are quite small, most being less than 10% the rotor area of SeaGen.”

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CLAIRE BATES, The Daily Mail, July 17, 2008

The first ever commercial electricity powered by the tides has been put on the National Grid, project managers said today.

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.

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openPR.co.uk, July 23, 2008

Plans announced yesterday for a study into the feasibility of wind and wave farms off the coast of Northern Ireland and Scotland were heralded as a positive step forward by The Renewable Energy Centre

Costing 1.6 million and funded mainly by Inter-Reg, an EU (European Union) funded programme, the study will begin later this year. The west coast of Scotland and the North and North East coast of Ireland have a huge potential to harness both wind and wave power. The study will investigate the possibility of establishing a grid infrastructure between the two locations which would allow for an offshore transmission network. This would attract commercial investors and the area could become one of the key supply chains of renewable energy for Scotland and the UK.

Scotland has already committed to an ambitious target of sourcing 50% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 and this study could pave the way to a successful achievement of this goal. Tim Mather, Scotland’s Energy Minister said “To realise the potential of the huge wind, wave and tidal resources at our disposal, we need to examine the longer term development of our grid infrastructure. Scotland, we believe has never been in better shape to become the green energy capital of Europe and in turn, a renewables powerhouse”

The Renewable Energy Centre said it was a positive move forward for the renewable energy industry and the grid infrastructure. The Centre has already highlighted the issues many investors are experiencing with delays because of grid access and transmission and this study shows that efforts are being made to create a grid network which will support the future of the UK’s energy supply.

The Energy Minister for Northern Ireland agreed saying “We have a vast wealth of free natural resources that we can harness to provide ourselves with a clean and sustainable source of energy”

The Renewable Energy Centre said that more effort to upgrade and prepare the national grid could not come soon enough and that if the UK was to continue to flourish in the wind, wave and tidal industry improvements needed to be planned and implemented without delay.

Richard Simmons Managing Director at The Renewable Energy Centre said “The renewable industry is forging ahead in order to ensure the UK’s future energy supply but as usual our infrastructure is sadly lacking. This has been known for many years and still upgrades and necessary works to support this new industry are hampering projects all over the UK. The Beauly Denny line which would open up the east coast of Scotland has been in planning application since 2005 and is still nowhere near being finalised. Much of the national grid will need to be upgraded in the next 5 to 10 years but at this rate it will seriously affect the progress of the renewable energy industry.”

The Renewable Energy Centre stated that the government and Ofgem needed to work together and formulate a strategic and definite plan of development in order to maintain the momentum gathering the renewables industry. It said that now was the time for the government to act and move the UK forward in order to not only achieve its European Union targets but surpass them.

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