Tidal streams provide reliable and predictable wind energy. Rolls-Royce, a subsidiary of Tidal Generation Limited has developed a 500-kW turbine prototype to harvest it. The prototype tidal turbine is located underwater off the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and has generated over 100 MWh of electrical power into the national grid.
The tidal unit’s three-bladed turbine is attached by a tripod to the seabed and can operate fully submerged at a water depth of 40m. Its design allows the turbine to continually rotate to face the incoming tide at the best angle. In addition, the turbine is semi-buoyant and can be easily towed to and from the point of operation, minimizing installation and maintenance costs by avoiding the need for specialized transport vessels.
Because of its predictability, deep water tidal stream power could be valuable in meeting electricity demands and carbon emissions reduction goals around the world. Rolls-Royce says its tidal technology could generate up to 30 TWh (terawatt-hours) of UK electricity, equivalent to about 7.5% of its electricity needs.
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