According to a June 6, 2007 press release by Marine Current Turbines Ltd (MCT), the installation of its 1.2 MW SeaGen commercial tidal energy system will commence during the week of August 20th in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. SeaGen will be the world’s largest tidal current device and will generate clean and sustainable electricity for approximately 1000 homes. Being a full size prototype, no scale up will be required for future commercial installations.
SeaGen consists of twin axial flow rotors, each of 16m diameter driving a generator via a gearbox much like a hydro-electric turbine or a wind turbine. The twin power units of each system are mounted on wing-like extensions either side of a tubular steel monopile 3m in diameter which is set into a hole drilled into the seabed. SeaGen will generate electricity from the flow in both directions.
On June 21 MCT annnounced that it had secured £7.5 million ($15 million) in funding from investment and savings bank Triodos Bank, along with new money from hedge fund AM2 (Bermuda) Ltd and some existing shareholders, will support the SeaGen tidal energy project and facilitate the company’s corporate ambitions and future project developments in UK and international waters.
The SeaGen demonstrator has been developed on the basis of SeaFlow, a 300kW experimental test system installed in 2003 off the north Devon coast, (previous post). It has taken the subsequent four years for Marine Current Turbines to design and build SeaGen and secure the necessary environmental and planning consents.
A jack-up barge is planning to mobilise from Belfast’s Harland & Wolf shipyard, where SeaGen is already complete and waiting, to Strangford Lough on August 20th. It is expected that the drilling of the single pile into the seabed and the installation of the twin-turbine device will take 14 days, with commissioning and power generation to the local grid shortly afterwards. sector.
Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said: “SeaGen’s installation is a very significant milestone for both Marine Current Turbines and the emerging marine energy. Following from our previous experience with SeaFlow ... we are confident that SeaGen will show that tidal energy can be truly competitive with other forms of power generation. Decentralised tidal current energy is fundamentally predictable and sustainable. It is also environmentally benign.
We will build on the success of SeaGen to develop a commercial tidal farm, of up to 10MW in UK waters, within the next three years. With the right funding and regulatory framework, we believe we can realistically achieve up to 500MW of tidal capacity by 2015 based on this new SeaGen technology.”
The basic requirements for cost-effective power generation from tidal streams using MCT's technology are a mean spring peak velocity exceeding about 2.25 to 2.5m/s (4.5 to 5 knots) with a depth of water of 20 to 30m - the red spots on the map (left) show some of the locations meeting these criteria around the UK and northern France.