the blog of TECNOPOLIS.EU

an italian forum about Science & Technology (english version coming soon)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

the Power of Sea

Exploiting the natural power of oceans is not new in history of technology. Tidal mills were built in the eighteenth century when major competition was between windmills and water wheels. A 1921 book of Struben A. first explain the concept of Tidal Power Plant.
In 1960/70 mechanical and offshore engineering makes outstanding progress and probably at this time some clever people had the brilliant idea of “Marine Current Turbines”.

Marine Current Turbines Ltd (MCT) is now the name of the pioneer and world leading company in developing systems to extract electrical energy from tidal marine currents. MCT's turbines exploits tidal current power. The concept is directly explained from the pictures here.

This enterprise looks strong. Just take a look at the website and you will discover big partners and experienced people. They are even backed from UK governament and EU.MCT's turbines can be installed at places with high tidal current velocities, or in a few places with fast enough continuous ocean currents.

Some data:

- requirements: stream peak velocity between 2.25m/s and 2.5m/s(4.5 to 5 knots) with a
depth of water of 20 to 30m
- first commercial prototype should be ready in 2007.
- Power: from 750 to 1500 Mw per units. Each unit consist of 2
rotors with blades measuring 15m to 20m.

Marine Current Turbines are smaller than Wind Turbines at s
ame power (water energy density greather than wind energy density).
MCTs produced energy lays in the same range of WTs, but MCTs have a key advantage: their sources (tides) are more predictable than wind.

The only limits I can imagine for spreading such technology on large scale are probably “costs and coasts”.
1) For real costs evaluation we have to wait for the first commercial units. But what about the “connection costs” to the electrical grid?
2) How many coasts will be suitable for MCTs around the world?

These are just open questions and MCT technology is a hot “work in progress”..

Sources: Marine Current Turbines Ltd, VDI-Nachrichten
Pictures: courtesy of MCT Ltd. and Autodesk


Louise said...

I like this idea for a blog and I look forward to following your posts.
Maybe also an issue with environmental cost- what damage to the environment- both physical and visual.- they may impact on recreational uses and fishing/marine reserves. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Hi,good piece and nice pics!

Alessandro Z. said...

Hi All,

thank You very much for your appreciation.

This blog is a "new born creature" and need Your Support!

see you..

Alessandro Z. said...

Hi louise:

I quote from the site of MCT Ltd

"Environmental Impact Analyses completed by independent consultants have confirmed our belief that the technology does not offer any serious threat to fish or marine mammals. The rotors turn slowly (10 to 20 rpm)"

see you, B.