Tidal triumph

The first electricity generated by tidal power in shallow waters is coming ashore on the banks of the Humber.


The 100kW Humber prototype system, developed by Sheffield-based Pulse Tidal, uses tidal streams to move horizontal blades up and down to drive a generator. It has shown it can harness enough energy to power 70 homes.


Pulse is now engineering a much larger device that should, according to the company, be able to provide power for around 1,000 homes. It will be able to operate in a wide range of water depths, but will initially be deployed in shallow sites due to reasons of expense and complexity.


The company is negotiating the location for its first full-scale project, which will begin operation in 2012.


Bob Smith, chief executive at Pulse, said: ‘The last few months of operation have shown that the Pulse concept offers an economic way to recover energy from the tides. According to the latest industry figures, offshore wind energy costs between 8p and 11p per kWh to produce. We believe that the Pulse system will be more cost-effective than offshore wind after only 1-200MW has been installed.’


Pulse Tidal’s device was commissioned in May in the Humber estuary’s shallow waters off Immingham Dock. It is now feeding electricity into Millennium Inorganic Chemicals (MIC) on the south bank of the Humber, making MIC the first UK company to take a direct feed from tidal power.