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Tidal Feeds Electricity to Grid

Jul 28, 2008 - RenewableEnergyFocus.com

BRISTOL, UK - What is said to be the world’s first commercial-scale tidal current turbine project in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, has delivered electricity onto the grid for the first time.

Tidal power has been used for many years and tidal barrages like the Rance tidal power plant in France has had an annual output of 600 million kWh since 1967, but SeaGen by Marine Current Turbines (MTC) is said to be the world first commercial-scale tidal current turbine project.

SeaGen's turbine has briefly generated 150 kW of power onto the grid as part of its commissioning work, ahead of achieving full capacity in the near future. When fully operational, SeaGen will generate 1.2 MW of power.

"SeaGen is the world's first commercial-scale tidal stream by a large margin. It is more than four times as powerful as any other tidal current system, including our own 300 kW SeaFlow, the world's first offshore tidal device installed off Lynmouth on the north Devon coast [South West UK, red.] in 2003," says Martin Wright, Managing Director of MCT.

The current testing and commissioning phase will be completed by the end of the summer followed by the official "switch on." The power will be purchased with the Irish energy company ESB Independent Energy.

Commenting on the news, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) in the UK, John Hutton, said: "Marine power has the potential to play an important role in helping us meet our challenging targets for a massive increase in the amount of energy generated from renewables."

BERR has supported the project with £5.2 million, and plans to double the financial support for marine technologies, according to Hutton.

MCT’s next project, announced in February, is a joint initiative with npower renewables to take forward a 10.5 MW project using several SeaGen devices off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales. It is hoped to be commissioned around 2011/2012.