The UK is committed to increasing the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources. Marine current energy has the potential to make a significant contribution towards this.
In 2000, the Government announced an obligation on electricity suppliers to contract an increasing percentage of electricity from renewable sources. The target was to supply 10% of the UK's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2010 and since 2008 SeaGen S has been contributing to this target.
This policy was further developed in 2009; the Renewable Energy Directive increased the target to 15% of energy supply from renewable sources by 2020.
Marine Current Turbines Ltd (MCT) is one of a number of companies developing technology that can generate electricity from marine current energy. MCT has developed the SeaGen S technology – a twin axial-flow turbine supported on a structure with the ability to raise the moving components out of the water for maintenance.
Further information on MCT and the SeaGen technology can be found at the Marine Current Turbines website.
The device currently operating in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland was deployed to demonstrate and test the SeaGen S technology. Strangford Lough has one of the best tidal resources in the world and its sheltered environment and easy access made it an ideal demonstration site for tidal energy.
Sea Generation Ltd is a subsidiary of MCT and it was established to develop the Strangford Lough project, and manage the installation and operation of the SeaGen S device. MCT is wholly owned by Siemens AG and forms part of the Hydro & Ocean Business.
The Strangford Lough project was funded by a combination of public and private funds, as well as receiving support from UK government grants.
In 2008, following extensive environmental studies, the project was awarded a five year licence by the Northern Ireland government. The SeaGen S device was installed in August 2008 and has been the subject of an extensive post installation environmental monitoring programme. For more information click here.
The SeaGen S 1.2MW device was the world’s first grid connected commercial scale tidal device and has continued to lead the way in tidal current technology. Since installation, SeaGen S has exceeded the milestone of having generated over 8GWh of electricity. The success of the project in Strangford Lough has led to a licence extension until 2018.
MCT is applying the lessons learnt in Strangford Lough to develop the SeaGen technology further. Building on the operational experiences and maintenance challenges generating electricity in a high energy tidal environment, MCT has up-scaled the SeaGen S device from a 1.2MW and 16 metre rotor to a 2MW and 20 metre rotor, to generate more electricity. MCT plans to install commercial arrays in UK waters from 2015.