A New Tidal Energy Scheme Could Generate Power in Bristol Channel

By James O Malley on at

A company called Kepler Energy has revealed plans for a new type of tidal generator that could generate power in the Bristol Channel.

Gizmag reports that the company's Transverse Horizontal Axis Water Turbine (THAWT) uses a new design, which aims to solve the problem of existing tidal technology being ineffective or too expensive. Previous designs, and the reason why Bristol isn't already churning out renewable electricity is because it requires either massive, expensive barrages, or what are basically underwater wind farm-style turbines, which are apparently a bit crap in most circumstances.

The THAWT design, by contrast, is instead "based on a stressed truss configuration with carbon composite hydrofoil blades", which can be strung together to in sequence to generate more power with less duplicated equipment. Even better, apparently more fences equals more efficiency. Kepler says that:

"Simply, the fence creates a head, which the turbines can then use by effectively extracting potential energy. It should be noted that the power coefficient of turbines forming a tidal fence is proportional to the length of the fence – so the output for each physical turbine in the fence increases with the length of the fence. This is because the horizontal blockage increases with each additional turbine added."

Essentially, Kepler appears to believe that its invention can achieve the economies of scale necessary to make tidal energy viable in places like the Bristol channel - which is going to be important if renewable energy is ever going to become a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

At the moment, the company is still looking for funding and has been pitching to a number of companies and organisations. It'll be interesting to see how it gets on. [Gizmag]