Think of it as the stationary exercise bike of the high seas.
Tidal power company Atlantis Resources announced that it has received $14 million from Statkraft, the Norwegian renewable energy provider, and that the two companies will cooperate to put some of Atlantis' devices into the Pentland Firth to run, among other things, a clean data center.
The Pentland Firth, near the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Stromness, Scotland, is considered one of the prime spots for tidal energy in the world because of its severe tides. Other companies are or are planning to test devices at EMEC.
Proponents of wave and tidal power admit that the industry still hasn't come up with a standardized design for a system to harvest power, similar to the three-bladed turbine that dominates the wind industry (see The Missing Ingredient in Wave and Tidal Power: Standards). One look at Atlantis' devices proves that out.
One device is the Solon, a bi-directional device for deep tides. It resembles a kitchen fan as well as the tidal device being developed by Open Hydro. Atlantis has been testing Solon in Tasmania while Open Hydro is conducting tests at EMEC.
The other device is the Nereus, for shallow tides. On the Nereus, paddles are attached to a long horizontal chain, sort of like a steamboat or a bike. Tests were conducted on a 400-kilowatt prototype in 2008.
Wave and tidal power have great potential. Aquamarine, in conjunction with Airtricity, wants to build 1 gigawatt of marine power by 2020. In the United States, the Electric Power Research Institute has estimated wave and tidal power could provide up to 10 gigawatts of power by 2025. Worldwide, there might be 1 gigawatt of marine power in operation in six years, according to GTM Research analyst Daniel Englander (see Trawling for $500M in Ocean Power).
But the key word is potential. So far, engineers have been challenged in building devices that can survive the sea. Finavera Renewables had a major faux pax when one of its experimental buoys sank. Financing has also been tough. Recently, Pelamis Wave Power admitted that its commercial wave snakes – the first commercial wave devices ever – have been grounded for months because the principal owner ran out of money.