Wales to see a world first development in deep-sea tidal power

Nov 11, 2007 01:00 AM

The world’s first deep-sea tidal-energy farm will be built off the Welsh coast next year to provide electricity for 5,000 homes. Eight underwater turbines, each 25 metres long and 15 metres high, are to be installed on the sea bottom off St David’s peninsula in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. Construction is due to start next summer and the proposed tidal energy turbines, described as “a wind farm under the sea”, should be operational by 2010.
The ebb and flow of tidal waters will provide the force to turn the blades of the turbines, which will each have 1 MW capacity. Tidal energy is perceived as having the potential to provide a reliable source of green energy because it is predictable and guaranteed, unlike wind turbines, which are dependent on the weather.

The project off the Welsh coast is being developed in partnership between the power company E.ON and Lunar Energy and is one of several tidal energy schemes being considered in British waters.
Although tidal energy has been considered technically possible for years it was largely ignored because other sources were simpler. Global warming has contributed to the interest in tidal energy because it can generate electricity without the huge emissions of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.

Studies have suggested that around Britain’s coastline there is sufficient accessible tidal energy to supply at least 5 % of Britain’s total electricity consumption, worth £ 1 bn (EUR 1.4 bn) each year. Tidal energy has the further advantage, especially over wind energy, of being predictable, even if it cannot be generated 24 hours a day.
An environmental assessment still has to be carried out, but the energy companies are confident that the impact on wildlife will be minimal. The turbines revolve slowly enough for fish and other creatures to avoid being damaged by the blades.

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