Siemens, the German industrial giant, announced on November 4 it had increased to 45% its stake in “Marine Current Turbines (MCT)”, the company based in Bristol, United Kingdom which specializes in generating tidal energy.

“With this acquisition, Siemens strengthens its activities in the production of marine energy. We will actively develop the commercialization phase of Marine Current innovative devices,” said Michael Axmann, Chief Financial Officer of the Division of Solar and Hydro Energy Sector in Siemens.

Ocean energy is experiencing strong growth worldwide driven by CO2 reduction commitments. Until 2020, experts predict a double-digit growth in this market. New estimates of the potential global production of electricity from tidal power stations put the figure of 800 terawatt hours (TWh) per year. For comparison, this would amount between 3% and 4% of global electricity consumption.

MCT expects to submit in the coming months to investors 2 projects with 8 megawatts (MW) and 10 MW, respectively, the project Kyle Rhea in Scotland and that of Skerries Anglesey in Wales.

In addition, MCT plans to install a tidal power infrastructure “FORCE” based in the Bay of Fundy in Canada and received a lease of the Royal Estate (Crown Estate) to deploy 100 MW off Brough Ness, on the southernmost tip of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

MCT has successfully implemented its first large-scale demonstrator, the SeaGen in Northern Ireland in Strangford Lough. Since November 2008, the two axial turbines of SeaGen, with a combined capacity of 1.2 MW were connected to the network supplying the equivalent of about 1500 homes. To date, the SeaGen would have injected in the network more than 2.7 GWh of electricity!

The turbines generate electricity using tidal current. The turbine ‘SeaGen is attached to a structure and is driven by the flow of the tides with a key advantage: the power generated is predictable in the tidal cycle. This technology is similar to that of a wind turbine including blades activated not by wind but by the tidal current. Water has an energy density of more than 800 times that of the wind. The twin turbines rotate with an angle of 180 degrees to capture an optimum tidal current (direction + speed).

For its part, the group Alstom – a direct competitor of Siemens – is also preparing to take a dip in tidal power next year. The French group is currently building a prototype of a megawatt of power, using technology licensed from the Canadian Clean Current Power Systems. At a conference in Bali last month, Philippe Gilson, Director of Alstom ocean energy, said his group planned to install the turbine in 2012 fully submersible to 20 feet high in the Bay of Fundy (New Scotland).

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