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Underwater Kites: A New Way to Harness Tidal Energy
Amanda Reed, 12 May 10

Good news in renewable energy development this week!

Minesto, a Swedish start-up and SAAB spin-off, looks to make a new tidal turbine commercially available within four years. Their "Deep Green" technology is a tidal stream system that uses the motion of the tides to generate electricity, similar to wind power generation. Deep Green's turbines are connected to kites, which are anchored to the ocean floor, and move back and forth in the water to generate electricity (see an animation of this process here).

Minesto is optimistic about Deep Green's eventual energy production capabilities (via CNN):

Anchoring "Deep Green" and steering the tethered "kite" enables the turbine to capture energy from the tidal currents at ten times the speed of the actual stream velocity...When operational, the turbine is expected to generate 500 kilowatts of power.

Philip Proefrock at ecogeek.org further reports,
Tidal flow as low as 1.6 meters/second can be used to create the lift necessary to move the kite.

There are still challenges for the engineers to figure out, including the cost of installing deep water power systems and the technical difficulties of transmitting power over long distances, but hopefully Minesto can successfully develop the Deep Green technology so that it becomes another piece of the renewable mix. The potential for success seems high, since, as Proefrock writes,

...the underwater kites are much lighter and easier to install than the equipment needed for other deepwater generation systems...[and]...the higher efficiency and more consistent generation offered by Deep Green could offset...drawbacks.

Fortunately the company just received funding to start testing a scale model of the system in Northern Ireland next year.

End quote: Luke Blunden, a researcher at the Sustainable Energy Research Group at the UK's University of Southampton, says of tidal energy:

"Tidal energy has the winning feature of being predictable -- in time particularly -- which makes it inherently more valuable...Although it is more expensive, I think its reliability will win out in the end. It's not a [total] solution, but it will be part of the energy mix."

For more on this story, head to ecogeek.org or CNN.com.


Image shows an artist's impression of how the "Deep Green" device will function beneath the surface of the ocean. Via Minesto.


Related posts in the Worldchanging archives:
Tidal Power, New York Style

Alternative Energy in Korea

Wave Energy

Ocean Power Update

Ocean Energy Update

Hydrokinetic in the UK

Islay To Be Entirely Powered By Tides

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