New Hydro

Marine Current Turbines wins U.K. renewables support

The SeaGen tidal energy system developed by Marine Current Turbines (MCT) is the first marine energy project to qualify for the United Kingdom’s support for renewable energy.

MCT said British energy regulator OFGEM accredited its SeaGen system for Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROC). The renewables obligation compels utilities to provide a portion of their electricity from eligible renewable energy plants. In return, generators receive an ROC for every megawatt of renewable energy.

SeaGen works like an underwater windmill, with the rotors driven by tidal currents.

MCT installed a 1.2-MW SeaGen tidal energy system that entered full operation in December 2008 in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. Additionally, MCT and npower renewables of the United Kingdom are collaborating to advance a 10.5-MW project using seven SeaGen turbines off the coast of Anglesey, North Wales.

BioPower Systems producing wave, tidal prototype units

BioPower Systems Pty Ltd in New South Wales, Australia, is producing prototypes of its bioWAVE ocean wave and bioSTREAM tidal current technology. These 250-kW prototypes are to be tested off King and Flinders islands in Tasmania, Australia, in 2010.

BioPower’s technology applies the concept of biomimicry, says Dr. Tim Finnigan, chief executive officer of BioPower Systems. The bioWAVE and bioSTREAM units move and sway in tune with the forces of the ocean, Finnigan says.

The bioWAVE technology is based on the swaying motion of sea plants in the presence of ocean waves. The unit consists of vertically mounted buoyant blades that interact with the oscillating flow field and can orient themselves to the prevailing wave direction. The motion of the blades is turned into electricity using a generator system. To avoid damage in extreme conditions, the unit ceases operation and assumes a streamlined position lying flat on the ocean floor.

BioSTREAM is a sub-surface system that harnesses the kinetic energy in tidal streams and marine currents. It uses an oscillating hydrofoil modeled on thunniform-mode swimmers (such as shark and tuna), which are the most efficient swimming species in the ocean. The energy in flow passing bioSTREAM is used to drive the motion of the device against an electrical load. The unit aligns with the flow in any direction and assumes a streamlined configuration to avoid excess load during extreme conditions.

In May 2008, BioPower signed a memorandum of understanding with Hydro Tasmania for testing of these two technologies. BioPower will deploy its systems, and Hydro Tasmania will facilitate the grid connections to supply power to the distribution network. The utility also is involved in gaining approvals and permits for the projects.

Aquamarine raises funding for wave energy converter

Ocean energy developer Aquamarine Power Ltd. has raised 10 million pounds (US$16.2 million) for further development of its Oyster wave energy converter. Part of the financing came from Scottish and Southern Energy.

The additional financing “proves that there is considerable investor appetite for renewable energy companies,” said Martin McAdam, chief executive officer of Aquamarine. Aquamarine said it needed about 50 million pounds (US$81.7 million) to take its Oyster converter to commercial scale by 2014. As of April 2009, the company said it had invested about 20 million pounds (US$32.7 million).

The Oyster unit is designed to capture energy from near-shore waves. The system includes an oscillating pump fitted with double-acting water pistons. Each wave activates the pump, delivering high-pressure water by pipeline to an onshore turbine that generates electricity. All electrical components of Oyster are onshore, making it durable enough to withstand rough seas.

The company recently bolted its 194-ton converter to the ocean floor at the European Marine Energy Center in the Orkney Islands in Scotland and is testing the device.

Ocean Power Technologies to build plant in Japan

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (OPT) is working with three Japanese companies to develop a demonstration wave power station in Japan.

In October 2009, OPT signed an exclusive agreement with a consortium of Idemitsu Kosan Co., Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., and Japan Wind Development Co. Initially, OPT will work with the Japanese government to increase the recognition of wave power in the country’s energy policy, as well as to identify favorable sites for OPT wave power stations and assess their commercial prospects.

Subject to successful identification of a project site and completion of economic assessments, the parties plan to enter into an agreement to build a demonstration plant with up to three of OPT’s PowerBuoys.

The trial plant would provide the basis for the expected building of an OPT wave power station with an initial capacity of 10 MW or more. Output from this station would be sold to electric utilities. Under the anticipated agreement to build the demonstration plant, OPT will sell the equipment for the power station to the consortium. For subsequent wave power stations, the consortium will provide manufacturing and maintenance of the power stations and ongoing plant operations, while OPT will provide its PowerBuoy technology under license and also sell certain subsystems of the plant to the consortium.

OPT has also been invited to become a member of the Tokyo Wave Power Initiative, a committee including the city of Tokyo, regional governments, and national agencies involved in promoting new energy sources.

WaveRoller demonstration project planned for Portugal

A consortium led by Finland’s AW-Energy plans to place a 300-kW WaveRoller unit off the coast of Portugal near Peniche, where the unit will be tested for one year.

To demonstrate this technology, the consortium will receive 3 million euros (US$4.4 million) from the European Union. The consortium is comprised of companies from Finland, Portugal, Germany, and Belgium. In addition, Bosch-Rexroth, ABB, Eneolica, and Wave Energy Center are participating in the demonstration project, AW-Energy said.

WaveRoller is an oscillating plate bolted to the sea floor. The fiberglass/steel plate moves back and forth as the waves roll in. The hydraulic pressure created by the back-and-forth motion is used to drive a turbine to generate power.


Wave and tidal energy developers are invited to bid for 22 million euros (US$33 million) in new funding to accelerate the commercial development of marine energy in the United Kingdom. The Marine Renewables Proving Fund will be administered by the Carbon Trust.

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