Tidal power

SeaGen, the world’s first commercial scale tidal stream turbine, has generated at its maximum capacity of 1.2MW for the first time.


SeaGen, the world’s first commercial scale tidal stream turbine, has for the first time generated at its maximum capacity of 1.2MW.



The turbine was deployed in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough earlier this year and has since undergone commissioning trials.


Developed by UK tidal energy group, Marine Current Turbines, SeaGen has reportedly achieved the highest power ever produced by a tidal stream system.



SeaGen works by generating power from sea currents using a pair of axial flow turbines driving generators through gearboxes.


The high density of seawater means that, compared to its wind alternative, SeaGen components can be much smaller.



This latest development means the project will begin operating at full mode, for periods of up to 22 hours a day, with regular inspections and performance testing undertaken by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) as part of the project’s development programme.



Irish energy company, ESB Independent, has agreed to purchase the power generated by SeaGen, which will be enough to meet the electricity needs of around 1,000 homes.

Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Turbines, said: ‘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.’



He added: ‘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.


‘This work is vital for SeaGen’s long-term commercial deployment in projects elsewhere in the UK and overseas.’


The SeaGen project has received £5.2m of funding from the UK government.


In addition, Northern Ireland Electricity has provided funding of £500,000.


Marine Current Turbines is now planning a joint initiative with npower renewables to take forward a 10.5MW project using seven SeaGen turbines off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales.