A full-scale, 156-ton tidal power generator meant to display the potential for harnessing tides as a source of renewable energy has been unveiled in Wales for a 12-month trial. If the trial goes well the company behind the generator, Tidal Energy, hopes to set up a nine more of these seven-story mechanisms and generate 10 megawatts of power, enough to supply electricity to around 10,000 homes in the area.
Named ‘Ysbryd y Mor’ meaning ‘Spirit of the Sea,’ this initial generator will provide 400 kilowatts of energy to the National Grid. Comprised of the company’s patented DeltaStream technology, the generator utilizes a freestanding triangular base and cutting-edge hydraulics to allow for free-turning movement aimed at best capturing tidal currents and generating power. The device is anchored by weight and does not require costly and environmentally destructive seabed drilling. The company hopes to minimize maintenance costs as well with this design, which is meant to withstand some of the most turbulent ocean currents — those are the ones that provide the most power.
Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones said, “this is a landmark project for Wales, which will not only help us to meet our sustainable energy ambitions, but will also provide significant opportunities for local people and businesses.”
This is the first private marine energy project fully undertaken in Wales, and one of the world’s first grid-connected tidal energy sources. Martin Murphy, managing director of Tidal Energy, said the project achieves a number of firsts, “including those relating to the environmental consents, the grid connection and the installation process — where the turbine and foundation are installed together.”
Across the Atlantic in Maine, Halcyon Tidal Power is meeting with state officials, residents, and investors this week as part of its efforts to build a $125-million tidal energy project in Cobscook Bay that could power more than 13,000 homes according to Ted Verrill, the company’s president.
Called a “tidal barrage,” the plant would use pressure from falling and rising tides rather than the currents that many other tidal energy installations target. Tidal barrages exist in Canada, France, and South Korea, but Halcyon is especially focused on minimizing environmental impacts and differentiating their device from what could almost be considered a dam. The setup would use pumps to replicate natural tides when necessary and turbines meant to allow for fish to pass through.