Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Device raises tidal power hopes

A team of engineers has developed a turbine which they claim will produce the world’s first domestically affordable electricity from tidal energy within a year.

Glasgow-based Nautricity, a Strathclyde University spin-out company, is to begin pre-commercial testing of the CoRMaT device.

They say the patented rotor system could overcome the problems which have made the production of tidal energy uneconomical.

The CoRMaT is a small, free-floating capsule, tethered to a surface float, which uses a new contra-rotating rotor system to harness tidal energy.

It can be used in water up to 500m deep and, because its closely spaced rotors move in opposite directions, it remains steady in the face of strong tidal flows.

Nautricity is one of several companies that have been selected by the Crown Estate to bid for the first round of licences to generate wave and tidal energy in the Pentland Firth.

A proof of concept version of CoRMaT has already generated electricity and later this year a pre-commercialisation device will undergo further rigorous testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.

Developers said they are confident it can become the first device on the market to effectively deliver commercially competitive electricity to the national grid.

Nautricity co-founder David Pratt said: “We anticipate that within the next year we will be capable of producing electricity that is competitive with offshore wind generation.

“First-generation tidal devices are nothing more than wind turbines in the sea. They require very heavy foundations and engineering to take place on the seabed which means they have a very high fixed cost.

“Our device is small, easier to handle and engineer and significantly simpler to deploy. We have lots of small units in the water compared with a few very big units.”

Nautricity launched in 2009 and has so far invested more than £2M in CoRMaT with support from private equity investors.

It plans to begin rigorous testing in autumn but could switch testing to Canada, the Mediterranean or Asia depending on the level of support it receives from government and private sources.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.