New turbine O2 from the company Orbital Marine Power gets 2MW of energy from the tide. And since it’s built on land to be later released onto the sea it is also cheap.
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The sea is full of energy and we can use it with the right technology. The Scottish company Orbital Marine Power (previously Scotrenewables Tidal Power) finished building its tidal turbine O2 that seems to be the currently most powerful such device in the world. Currently, it is being moved to the Scottish Orkney Islands where it should prove whether it is good enough when providing the energy to the power grid.
While solar energy seems to be a more and more promising source of energy for our current times we can also use another type of energy that has its source in space. It’s the energy of tide – caused by the gravitational effects of our large Moon. As low tide and high tide alternate, this moves enormous amounts of water creating a very abundant source of energy. And it’s not exactly a new type of energy as tidal energy has been used at least since the middle ages.
The largest current tidal energy projects such as the South Korean tidal power plant Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Plant with its 10 turbines that each provide 6 – 25 MW of energy or the French Rance Tidal Power Station with 24 turbines that each provide 2 – 10 MW both use the large and very expensive underwater wall and barrier construction. The barriers change the flow of the mass of water during tides to maximize the effectiveness of the turbines. It works well, but the price of building such power plants is astronomical and their function affects the tidal zone’s environment.
The approach of the company Orbital is different. They are focusing on significantly decreasing the costs. The turbine O2 looks more like a spaceship from Star Trek that was forced to do an emergency landing in the ocean. This is because it is a floating turbine that can be placed into a place where water moves during ties and is kept in the same location with a heavy anchor. That means installing and running it makes any underwater works short and thus cheap.
The turbine 02 has two 18-meter wide arms each with a large rotor attached to it with a diameter of 20 meters. The arms and the rotors can be set to use the flowing water during both high and low tide. On top of that, the arms can also be raised up from water making their maintenance much easier and cheaper. The whole turbine is 74 meters long and brings up to 2 MW of energy. That is the energy needed to run 2,000 British households.
Once the turbine will be connected to the power grid – that should happen soon – the cost of making it and putting it into the ocean will be just a fraction of the cost to build the massive tidal power plants such as Sihwa Lake or Rance that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. This is because the 02 tidal power plant was built completely on land and is going to be set onto the sea just like a ship only to sail to its needed position where it will connect to the power grid using cables.
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