Investment Continues to Flow into Marine Energy: Siemens and OpenHydro Ride the Tide

An OpenHydro turbine being deployed off the coast of Orkney, UK

Marine resources — tidal, wave and ocean thermal — are ripe for providing massive amounts of energy to coastal communities. But the technologies are still budding, preventing companies from realizing that available potential.

The International Energy Agency estimates that marine resources could feasibly provide 20,000 TWh of electricity each year. That’s more than today’s entire global generation portfolio. But the engineering challenges for technology developers are immense. Getting pieces of equipment to survive for long periods of time in the harshest environments in the world is no easy task. That’s why there are only a few hundred megawatts of projects installed around the world — with many of those devices facing long periods of downtime.

There are signs, however, that the tidal industry is moving closer to an “industry” rather than simply a place for experimentation. Earlier this summer, the French nuclear giant Alstom entered the space, purchasing a 40% stake in Scottish developer AWS Ocean Energy. This month, Siemens increased its investment in the UK tidal energy developer Marine Current Turbines. And last month, a tidal turbine developed by Rolls Royce became the first in Scotland to generate 100 Megawatt-hours of electricity without being brought up for maintenance.

These all followed the announcement from another tidal developer, OpenHydro, that it was proceeding with an 8 MW capacity tidal plant in France using its open-faced turbine.

(Some publications like Wired have wrongly called this the largest tidal project in the world. It’s actually the third largest project. The largest is in South Korea, and the second-largest is also in France. But the OpenHydro design is much different the traditional tidal barrage design, a type of power plant that can cause very negative impacts to the surrounding ecosystem.) This latest project is being deployed with the large European utility EDF.

Taken together, these recent developments suggest slow-but-continued progress in the space. The entrance of more industrial powerhouses like Siemens, Alstom and EDF may help solve the engineering challenges project developers still face.

For a look at OpenHydro’s turbine design, check out the video below.

6 Responses to Investment Continues to Flow into Marine Energy: Siemens and OpenHydro Ride the Tide

  1. Jim Baird says:

    As Dr. Paul Curto, former Lead Technologist with NASA comments on the OpEdNews – Article: The Willie Sutton/Will Rogers Approach to Energy,
    “OTEC is a magic or silver bullet for so many of our problems, and serves to solve the most tragic problem of all — mass extinction.

    All of the other “solutions” fail to address the problem at hand, and we are running out of time.”

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Great to read finally on the topic of wave power here at Climate Progress!

    Here a few bits from OPT’s (US-based Ocean Power Technologies) test results on their technology:

    “power levels for the system had outperformed expectations.”

    “The capacity factor represented by these results (wave power) exceeded that experienced by most other renewable sources.”

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Importance to long term reliances of offshore constructions.

    Biocorrosion of offshore steel constructs, are prone under anaerobic conditions, from micro organism, attacking steel.

    Microbiology. – The offshore wind farm Alpha Ventus is to test the viability of such wind farms off the German coast. It is now clear that the huge wind turbines could face danger from below.

  4. David B. Benson says:

    They fail to state just what that capacity factor is.

  5. prokaryotes says:

    The official website offers this chart

    Though i agree very bad messaging of technical information and project data. And the presentation – website is not that great too.

  6. Zoe Lee says:

    Crest Energy Limited has been granted consents to construct a marine tidal turbine power station in the mouth of the Kaipara Harbour in Northland, northern New Zealand. (11 March 2011)
    The project comprises up to 200 completely submerged marine tidal turbines with a maximum generating capacity of around 200MW, located invisibly underwater.
    Estimated total costs for the project over the first ten years are about NZ$600 million, offset by modest but growing revenues from year four.