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TIDES TURN FOR
OCEAN BASED RENEWABLE ENERGY

UK-based Marine Current Turbines has successfully raised £3.0 million (US$5.4 million) in an equity funding round, that will help propel a program to develop a successor to the company's 'Seaflow' Project, the world's first 300 kW offshore tidal turbine.

The new project known as the 'SeaGen' Project will be a grid connected twin rotor machine, which follows on as the next stage of the development of a commercial tidal stream turbine. The company also said that the original 'Seaflow' Project with one rotor has performed better than expected.

The machine has reached its rated power of 300 kW, has a rotor efficiency consistently in excess of 40% and the energy capture has been up to 25% better than expected. Overall the project has proved invaluable in proving the fundamentals of the technology, and significantly advancing the knowledge of all aspects of design and operations.

MCT's ocean energy device works on the same principles as a windmill, where large underwater rotors, shaped like propellers, are driven by the huge mass of flowing water to be found at certain places in the sea. The technology consists of rotors mounted on steel piles (tubular steel columns) set into a socket drilled in the seabed. The rotors are driven by the flow of water in much the same way that windmill rotors are driven by the wind, the main difference being that water is more than 800 times as dense as air, so quite slow velocities in water will generate significant amounts of power. The energy generated, being derived from tides has the added significant advantage of being predictable.

Maintenance of the device while it is submerged in fast currents would be exceptionally challenging and expensive, so a key patented feature of the technology is that the rotor and drive train (i.e. gearbox and generator) can be raised completely above the surface. Once raised, any maintenance or repairs can readily be carried out from the structure attended by a surface vessel.

The investment round has seen existing major investors such as Electricitý de France increase their equity stake, and new investors join. BankInvest, a major Danish Venture Capitalist firm with a specialist energy focus, led the funding round and they were joined by Guernsey Electricity, who have access to one of the most energetic tidal sites in western Europe.

"We believe we have made a major breakthrough in terms of extracting clean energy from the sea," said Martin Wright, the company's Managing Director.

"Our 300 kW Seaflow prototype turbine has successfully completed the first phase of its test program; it has exceeded our performance expectations," Wright said. "We are also delighted to have attracted new, experienced, specialist investors to the company, and that speaks for itself. It gives the company a very sound footing upon which to move forward, and considerably hastens the day when tidal stream power becomes a commercial reality."

Jens Christian Mathiesen of BankInvest joined the Marine Current Turbines' Board, "bringing considerable commercial and finance expertise," to the company.

"We are particularly attracted not only by the fundamentals of the technology and the predictable nature of the power production, but also by the management and the strong strategic partner base that they have already brought together," Mathiesen said.

Written by: Marine Current


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