SeaGen Harnesses the Tides for Renewable Energy
Not all that long ago, the world hit 7 billion people. Assuming we avoid some sort of apocalyptic event, that number will obviously increase. Fulfilling the energy needs of billions of people is going to require investments into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
In 2008, a 1.2 MW tidal turbine called the SeaGen was installed in Strangford Lough, a narrow inlet off the coast of Ireland. Designed by Marine Current Turbines (MCT), the SeaGen takes advantage of the tides flowing in and out of the inlet to produce 10MWh for a total output of up to 6,000MWh per year.
While winds may fall silent and the sun can be blocked by overcast skies, the tides remain pretty much constant, making a tidal turbine an efficient source of renewable energy. The total energy output of the SeaGen matches a 2.4MW wind turbine without relying on the vagaries of the elements.
From the website:
“The turbines have a patented feature by which the rotor blades can be pitched through 180 degrees, allowing them to optimise energy capture and operate in bi-directional flows. The rotors are positioned in the top third of the water column where tidal currents are strongest, therefore maximising the energy capture. These design features allow the SeaGen S system at Strangford Lough to achieve more than 48% efficiency over a broad range of current velocities.”
Potential environmental concerns remain an issue, but, to this date, all studies have shown the impact of the SeaGen on wildlife in Strangford Lough has been negligible. Other tidal or wave energy collection systems have yet to meet with the sort of testing involved with the SeaGen, but it looks as though these tidal turbines could be one completed piece in the renewable energy puzzle.
Below you’ll find a couple of videos about the SeaGen. The first is a short video demonstrating how it functions, the second is a lengthier video that goes further in-depth about the turbine.