How a giant underwater kite will be Britain’s new source of Power
Known for its picturesque villages and beautiful landscape, Anglesey is a sleepy island just off the North-West Coast of Wales. Described by Visit Wales as “The home of peace and quiet” the island has previously been known as a low-key tourist escape, its quiet beaches providing a weekend refuge for frazzled Brits. Not anymore however- currently, Anglesey is the target of global speculation, with its shores becoming host to a revolutionary energy operation; the world’s first “Deep Green” project.
What is it?
Essentially a giant underwater kite. Whilst most tidal energy converters are designed to be stationary and sit on the sea’s surface, or secured to its bed, the Deep Green project uses an underwater plane replicate. This plane is attached by chain to the ocean floor and powered by the current, like a kite is powered by the blowing wind.
As does a soaring kite in a mild blowing wind, the underwater kite travels much quicker than its surrounding current. This means the turbine within the kite generates electricity “several hundred times greater compared to if the turbine would be stationary” (Minesto, © 2017). As the kite multiplies the tidal power from its surroundings, it can be used in underwater environments where there are very little currents, as opposed to traditional tidal energy converters which are reserved for stronger currents. Whilst the UK has a large tidal energy resource (estimated as 50% of Europe’s tidal energy capacity) (Green Match , 2016) most of the earth’s oceans lack the currents to produce cost efficient tidal energy using current methods. This could be an alternative.
How much electricity is generated?
Each Deep Green device will produce 0.5 megawatts, with Mineseto estimating that 100 devices would generate enough power for over 30,000 homes. The Holyhead Deep site located in Wales is to be expanded in stages, from one initial test device to over twenty, with planning permission to later scale to 160 devices, amounting to 80MW. The Holyhead site is the first commercial site of its kind, following a successful test facility set up in Northern Ireland. With its proven suitability for low current climates, international expansion could be expected.
Is this the future for British Energy?
Over the course of 2016, over £1bn of investment into renewable energy projects disappeared (The Guardian, 2017) casting a gloomy outlook over green UK energy sources. However, with most cancelled projects being wind turbine sites, maybe Britain simply refocused their attention from wind energy to ocean energy. With moving water being 832x denser than moving air, and therefore multiplying kenetic energy to the same factor, perhaps it is time that we fully considered the potential of UK tidal power.
Green Match . (2016). Wave and Tidal Energy: part of the UK’s energy mix. Retrieved from Enormous Potential of Tidal Energy and Wind Power in the UK: http://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2016/10/tidal-and-wind-energy-in-the-uk
Minesto. (© 2017). Minesto – Our Technology. Retrieved from Minesto.com: http://minesto.com/our-technology
The Guardian. (2017). Renewables investment in UK will fall 95% over next three years – studt. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/04/renewables-investment-uk-fall-95-percent-three-years-study-subsidy-cuts-emissions-targets