It is thought that a more efficient way of gathering power from the sea’s oceans is to use a turbine that can be pushed through the currents of the sea. A trial is about to start using this sort of technology in Northern Ireland and a kite with a wingspan of 14 metres is going to be carrying a turbine below it which is tethered to the seafloor.
The idea is the kite will fly in the tidal stream and will move around in a figure of eight motion causing water to rush through the turbine and generate electricity. This device is going to be able to utilise tides that would normally be too slow for regular tidal devices. The buoyancy of the kite is also a good design as it will not sink as the tide changes level. Environmentalists are also going to be happy as the turbine in the water has a protective system to stop fish being caught up in it.
The test that is being run is on a smaller scale but it is expected that the final kite devices will be able to generate around 800 kilowatts of electricity. The device is going to be functional in water between 50 metres and 300 metres and will work as long as the water is flowing at over one metre per second. This is a much better figure than the current tidal devices which require water to be flowing at over two and a half times that rate.
It is expected that the widespread utilisation of this type of kite technology will improve the U.K.’s ability to gather energy from the ocean. It is expected that the efficiency of tidal energy will increase by over 15 percent thanks to this innovation and could supply one percent of the country’s electricity.