The UK has commenced the deployment of full-scale tide generators off the coast of Wales as part of efforts to reduce the country’s usage of carbon-heavy fossil fuels.
The world’s first full-scale tide generator is slated for installation off the coast of southern Wales within the next few weeks.
The demonstration DeltaStream device will run for an initial trial period of 12 months in Ramsay Sound, Pembrokeshire. The machine will possess a capacity of 400 kilowatts, which will be enough to cater to the electricity needs of roughly 100 homes in the area.
The developers of the DeltaStream, private company Tidal Energy Ltd, said its invention represents a breakthrough in the field of wave-based power technology, and that its installation inaugurates a new era for the tidal power industry in Wales.
“This is a landmark project for Wales, which will not only help us to meet our sustainable energy ambitions, but will also provide significant opportunities for local people and businesses,” said Tidal Energy managing director Martin Murphy.
The device bears an uncanny resemblance to the lopped-off propulsion unit of a outsized submarine, measuring 16 by 20 metres and weighting roughly 150 tonnes.
It comes equipped with three horizontal axis turbines whose rotors possess a diameter of 15 metres, better enabling them to harvest the immense energy potential of the ocean’s tidal motions. The triangular frame of the device is easy to erect in shallow coastal waters, and does not require extensive drilling into the seabed.
Following the initial 12-month trial period, Tidal Energy plans to construct nine more of the devices in a grid off St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire, to add a further 10 megawatts of capacity to wave energy in Wales.
Tidal energy is expected to flourish in the future given mounting concerns over anthropogenic climate change – particularly in countries such as the UK and Australia which possess lengthy coastlines and thus ample natural resources for the deployment of wave power devices. Analysts expect the marine energy sector to grow to US$10.3 billion in the UK alone by 2035, creating over 20,000 new jobs.