Tidal Power Comes to Market

A large-scale tidal-power unit has started up in Northern Ireland.

Published: 29-Jul-2008

By Brittany Sauser

The world's first commercial tidal-power system has been connected to the National Grid in Northern Ireland. Built by the British tidal-energy company Marine Current Technologies (MCT), the 1.2-megawatt system consists of two submerged turbines that are harvesting energy from Strangford Lough's tidal currents. The company expects that once the system, called SeaGen, is fully operational, it will be able to provide electricity to approximately one thousand homes.

The system is currently being tested and has briefly generated 150 kilowatts of power into the grid. But it has also damaged one of its rotors due to a failure in the control system when the rotor began turning too fast. Although the problem was a minor setback, the unit is not expected to start running continuously and at full capacity until November, says Peter Fraenkel, the technical director at MCT.

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