The world’s largest tidal turbine was recently unveiled on August 11th 2010 at Invergordon, Scotland, weighing 130 tons, 74ft (22.6m) tall, with two 60ft (18.3m) diameter rotors and generating 1MW on both tidal ebb and flow. The Atlantis Resources AK1000 can supply power to 1000 homes, and is to be installed at the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkney Islands, and has taken more than ten years to develop.
Atlantis Resources' chief executive Tim Cornelius explained that, " The turbines turn at six to eight revolutions per minute, so are incredibly slow turning and will have zero impact on the surrounding environment." Theoretically, the turbine rotors should not harm marine animals.
So what is Tidal Current Power?
Tidal current technology is a form of hydropower and harnesses the energy in tides and converts it into usable power.
Tidal current power is different from wave power. Wave power harnesses power of the waves while Tidal Current technology extracts energy from the high tide bulge created by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun moving horizontally around the Earth’s surface.
As per the Atlantis, Sea water, which is 832 times denser than air, gives a 5 knot ocean current more kinetic energy than a 350 km/h wind; therefore ocean currents have a very high energy density. Hence a smaller device is required to harness tidal current energy than to harness wind energy.
Tidal Power and Tidal current power differ in that, Tidal power requires the building of barrages to manage and direct the flow of the current etc… the civil construction cost and impact on the environment is much higher in the tidal power barrage systems.
Tidal Power facts:
- The first large scale tidal power system the Rance Tidal Power station in Brittany, France, started functioning in 1966! It is still the largest tidal power station based on installed capacity.
- Tidal power stations were first developed and tested in the 1970’s; they harness the water masses that periodically flow into sea bays and drive conventional hydro turbines when the tide goes out. The disadvantage of this technology is that they require large barrages in the sea.
- Unless taken to extremes, Tidal Current power system does not require blocking of any waterways, and hence does not have the adverse environmental effects associated with Tidal Barrages.
- Tidal current energy takes the kinetic energy available in currents and converts it into renewable electricity.
- As oceans cover over 70% of Earth’s surface, ocean energy (including wave power, tidal current power and ocean thermal energy conversion) represents a vast source of energy, estimated at between 2,000 and 4,000 TWh per year, enough energy to continuously light between 2 and 4 billion 11W low-energy light bulbs.
- USA and UK could produce 15% of power they need from the Ocean itself.
On the whole the project sounds and looks really good and it has been working in Australia. Will wait to see how it works out in Orkney, Scotland.