Renewable energy’s new wave: tidal power

by Antonio Pasolini on December 11, 2008

With so much water in the world, it’s no wonder oceans are one of the possibilities of generating non-fossil fuel, cleaner power. It’s usually known as tidal power and in fact, a 500-kilowatt (kW) tidal power prototype that could be scaled up for ocean use will be tested next August in the Strait of Messina, near the island of Sicily, according to a report published in Renewable Energy World.

If the trial is successful, an even more powerful tidal power plant could be ready for mass production in about five years time, and installed not just in the seas off Italy but also in the Gulf of Florida and other coastal sites with stronger currents.

The technology behind it is called Sea Power, a device that can be used either for the exploitation of tides and oceanic circulations in the seas or for the exploitation of the natural flow of water in streams. The device is composed of a floating structure (vessel) and various horizontal axis turbines positioned at regular intervals on a horizontal, adjustable and modular tube (the so-called “line”). This tube also functions as transmission shaft for the power captured from water flows and transferred to the electric generator, which eventually transforms it into electrical energy.

Elsewhere, earlier this week Ocean Flow Energy Ltd announced it has acquired significant investment from Aquamarine Power Ltd to allow it to continue developing its technology for producing energy from deep water tidal resource. Ocean Flow Energy has a device called Evopod, which is a moored, semi-submersible structure designed to generate electricity in exposed, deep water sites and is suitable for operation in harsh environments.

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