APRIL 2, 2014 - A black-and-red tower with what look like white wings juts out of the water in Strangford Lough, a fjord that runs from the Irish Sea deep into the farm country of Northern Ireland.
Curious seals stick their heads up as a boat draws close, but they don’t seem to be bothered by the strange-looking device, which is actually a windmill, except its blades are under water.
SeaGen, as the machine is called, might be the most convincing evidence available that the large-scale harnessing of tidal power is becoming more than just an engineer’s fantasy.
Since 2008, SeaGen has been fixed to the sea bottom about 80 feet below the surface in a narrow channel where the tides race in and out of the 18-mile-long Strangford Lough. The fast-moving currents spin the machine’s twin propellers. When they are operating, lowered into the water along the shaft of the tower, they generate enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes, producing an estimated 3,000 pounds, or $5,000, per day in revenue.
With the wind and solar energy industries well advanced, the oceans are looking more attractive as a new source of clean energy to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. There are obvious pluses: The tides, especially along the coasts of some countries, including Britain, are powerful and more predictable than wind. read more>>>