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Tidal viability grows

Published:  27 January, 2014

The Minesto step-change marine power plant is now producing electricity in Northern Ireland proving the potential viability for huge ocean current power market. ODEE reports.

The Deep Green ‘underwater kite’ marine power plant is now producing electricity in the waters off Northern Ireland.

The tidal energy device developed by Minesto, named Deep Green, converts energy from tidal stream flows into electricity through a principle somewhat similar to the posture of a wind kite.

It is claimed this is the first time a marine power plant designed for low velocity currents has produced electricity at sea, and the ocean trials verify the ability to unlock ocean currents as a renewable energy source.

“This is a break-through for the entire renewable energy industry”, claims Minesto’s CEO Anders Jansson.

The ocean trials with a 1:4 scale Deep Green power plant in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, shows power production from slow currents using a surface-mounted installation, a concept that is directly transferable to full commercial installations in ocean currents. To date Jansson says no one else has proven a viable case for ocean current power that has been verified through offshore trials.

Deep Green is claimed to be the only known power plant that works cost-effectively in low velocity tidal and ocean currents. Jansson commented: “Our technology is indeed different from other marine power plants. It has been a long fight to get to the point where we are but when you have what we have, it is worth it.

“This is a break-through for the entire renewable energy industry. We will produce renewable electricity with high reliability to a cost that will compete, or even be lower, than conventional energy sources.”

The sea trial in Northern Ireland measures long time performance of Deep Green for valuable insights for the first full scale installation of Deep Green, planned for 2015 and also possibly somewhere in the UK. The Deep Green demonstrator has a three metre long wing and is tethered to an offshore control room in Strangford Lough. A specifically equipped RIB boat enables safe and cost effective offshore operations.

“Ocean currents are the hidden treasure of renewable energy sources”, said Jansson. He continued: “With their almost continuous water flows they carry large amounts of renewable energy over the globe and with a high load factor compared to weather dependant sources like wind or solar power. The resource is predictable and feasible for providing base grid power, and has minimal environmental impact.

“The challenge has been that the currents are too slow and the sites are too deep for most available marine power plants. Deep Green solves that problem. Minesto’s technology will contribute to make countries like the USA, Japan and Taiwan carbon neutral and independent energy producers, instead of hugely dependent on fossil based and imported energy. Just to take an example: Taiwan claims that 50% of its energy can be supplied from the ocean currents along the coast if they just find a viable technology, and we believe that Deep Green is that technology. Today Taiwan depends on 98% imported energy which is a threat to the country’s economy.”

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