Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] SeaGen, the world’s first commercial scale tidal stream turbine, designed and developed by Marine Current Turbines (MCT), has for the first time generated at its maximum capacity of 1.2 megawatts (MW). This is the highest power so far produced by a tidal stream system anywhere in the world and exceeds the previous highest output of 300 kilowatts produced in 2004 by Marine Current Turbines’ earlier SeaFlow system, off the north Devon coast.
SeaGen works like an underwater windmill, with the rotors driven by the power of the tidal currents rather than the wind. It was deployed in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough in May of this year and since then has undergone commissioning trials.
As SeaGen has now reached full power it will move towards full-operating mode, for periods of up to 22 hours a day, with regular inspections and performance testing undertaken as part of the project’s development program. The power generated by SeaGen is being purchased by Irish energy company, ESB Independent, for its customers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“Generating at full power is an important milestone for the company, and in particular our in-house engineering team. We are very pleased with SeaGen’s performance during commissioning. It demonstrates, for the first time, the commercial potential of tidal energy as a viable alternative source of renewable energy,” said Martin Wright, managing director of MCT. “SeaGen is now running exactly as we said it would, but testing will continue to be carried out, not only to check SeaGen’s performance over extended periods of operation but also to evaluate how components are standing up to the harsh conditions and to determine how the design might be improved.”
MCT’s next project, announced in February 2008, is a joint initiative with npower renewables to take forward a 10.5-MW project using seven SeaGen turbines off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales. It is hoped the tidal farm will be commissioned around 2011/2012.