Energy aplenty from the tides

By Colin Ricketts - 20 Jan 2014 11:59:0 GMT
Energy aplenty from the tides

Tidal and wave energy converters abound, but the monitoring of their efficiency is becoming key to their development and confidence in their productivity. This is a wave energy converter, shown by ETI; Wave energy image; Credit: © Energy Technologies Institute

The Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford are just 2 of the academic institutions gambling that some of their intrepid researchers will identify the most efficient tidal energy machine. After numerous "ducks" and turbines, the engineers have offered an insight into how 1.9GW would be gained from the Pentland Firth alone. The UK is like a cold and wet version of the Greek Islands, with its reality being whirlpools and tidal races as good as any (in Europe, at least.) Now computer models can show up the best systems and locations for innovative engineering.

42GW is achievable if 100% efficiency could be achieved within the strait between Orkney and the Scottish mainland. With the Crown Estate leasing the width of the Firth to various energetic companies. Oxford's Guy Houlsby believes a lot more is possible. He states "The UK enjoys potentially some of the best tidal resources worldwide, and if we exploit them wisely they could make an important contribution to our energy supply." Well, 1.9GW is half of the Scottish national energy usage, Professor, so at least one country could be satisfied.

The PerAWaT project aims to reduce the level of uncertainty currently present when science estimates tidal energy capture and therefore increase the confidence that project developers can have in the return on their investment. Monitoring and models from Wave Farmer and Tidal Farmer produce the kind of results that gave us these figures from PerAWaT (Performance Assessment of Wave and Tidal Array Systems.)

The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney has now achieved the building of the largest tidal array in Europe, great employment potential and the cooperation of engineers throughout the British Isles. We wish them all well, as Scotland, the UK and the whole of Europe press ahead with a complete renewable energy portfolio.

PerAWaT information is published by ECI.