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Power plan makes waves

June 24, 2006 - The Dominion Post

Cook Strait could be the answer to New Zealandís energy problems say scientists.

Power companies are investigating an ambitious project to place underwater turbines in Cook Strait as an answer to New Zealandís electricity shortage.

Scientists behind the idea say harnessing the tidal currents could meet the entire countryís electricity needs.

State-owned power companies Meridian Energy and Transpower are also included in the projectís development.

In what would be a multibillion-dollar scheme, up to 7,000 turbines would be anchored to the sea floor and float about 40 metres below the surface.

The projectís leaders, Christchurch scientists David Beach and Chris Bathurst, believe the tidal currents could be harnessed to generate enough electricity for the whole country.

The scientists, the founding directors of Neptune Power, are investigating the placing of the submerged turbines in an area stretching over 200 square kilometres of Cook Strait, from its northern fringes close to Marlborough Sounds to further south between Wellington and Cloudy Bay.

ďWe think we have the best site in the southern hemisphere,Ē Bathurst said.

Meridian, New Zealandís largest hydro-generation company, met the pair this week to discuss the scheme. The scientists will also meet Transpower, operator of the national grid, in the next few weeks.

A secondary tidal generation project in Foveaux Strait is also being considered.


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Updated: 2003/07/28