Commodity Online

LONDON : As the world debates on the alternative sources of energy, here is yet another mode tidal energy.

The world s first commercial scale 1.2MW tidal energy turbine SeaGen

was deployed in Northern Ireland by Bristol based renewable energy developer, Marine Current Turbines

It is an historic achievement for both Marine Current Turbines and for renewable energy worldwide. No other system can harness the power of the tidal currents in the way this one can. We take great pride and see enormous potential in the technology and hope it will eventually make a significant contribution to the future energy needs of the British Isles, Ireland and beyond, said Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines after the turbine was put into the fast flowing waters of Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland.

The 1000 tonne structure had its final assembly at the Harland Wolff dockyard in Belfast, where the Titanic was built. Here it was winched onto the crane barge, Rambiz , owned and operated by the Belgian company Scaldis, and then transported to Strangford Narrows. The quadruped section that sits on the seabed and supports the main structure is currently being pin piled. Each of the four huge pins that secure SeaGen will be driven to a depth of just under 10 metres.

Sensing that it is no mean achievement, UK Secretary of State for Energy, John Hutton expressed happiness that the British innovations are leading the world in the development of marine energy technologies and this sort of project will help increase the amount of energy from renewable sources.

I am proud that my department has played a part in the development of SeaGen, granting and pound 5.2 million of funds to help take it from the drawing board, he added.

When fully operational later in the summer, its 16m long, twin rotors, that can be pitched to face the current in both directions, will operate for up to 18 20 hours per day to produce enough clean, green electricity, equivalent to that used by a 1000 homes. This is four times greater than any other tidal stream project under development.

A 12 week commissioning phase will begin soon to connect the tidal system up to the local electricity network for commercial use. ESB Independent Energy, the retail subsidiary of Ireland s ESB, has purchased the power from SeaGen to supply to its customers in the island of Ireland.