What is tidal stream energy?
It’s energy generated by turbines placed on the seabed to capture the kinetic energy of moving water. Atlantis, an Australian company listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Aim market, is currently building the world’s largest tidal-stream project, MeyGen, in the Pentland Firth between the Scottish mainland and Orkney – a stretch of ocean famed for its treacherously fast-flowing tides.
In a major landmark for the UK renewables industry, it installed its first four turbines on the seabed in September, and delivered its first power to the grid in November. “Psychologically, this is the unleashing,” says Atlantis boss Timothy Cornelius. “It was a great story before; now it is an infrastructure project.”
How does it work?
Four massive turbines with an initial output capacity of 6 MW make up the first stage of the MeyGen project. Each turbine – resembling a bulked-up wind turbine, about 15 metres high and weighing almost 200 tonnes – sits on a heavy foundation structure resting on the seabed, secured by its own weight. Tidal currents rotate the rotor blades, which power a generator to create electricity, in the same way as wind power.
Underwater cables then carry the electricity to an onshore substation (in this case at Ness of Quoys), and the substation transfers it into the national grid. Phase one of the Atlantis project cost around £51m, and the firm plans to spend nearly £500m on expanding MeyGen and building other projects off the Scottish coast over the next two years. The ultimate goal is to boost the project’s capacity to 398 MW, delivered from 269 turbines – enough energy to power 175,000 houses.
Source: Money Week
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