Siemens buys ocean power firm Marine Current Turbines

Erlangen, Germany, February 17, 2012 — Siemens has acquired the majority stake in Marine Current Turbines Ltd., the U.K. company based in Bristol, which develops and builds tidal power systems.

Marine Current Turbines is a firm that deals in tidal power systems. Back in November 2011, Siemens increased its stake in the company to 45 percent. Siemens is planning to complete the acquisition of Marine Current Turbines in the coming few weeks. Financial details of the deal are not disclosed.

Global carbon reduction commitments are increasing demand for reliable marine current power. Experts are expecting double-digit annual growth rates for this sector up to 2020.

The worldwide potential for power generated by tidal power plants is estimated at 800 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually. That is about 25 percent more than the total power demand of Germany and is equivalent to between three and four percent of global power consumption. Coastal regions with strong tidal currents like those in the U.K., Canada, France and East Asia offer major potential for the use of this technology.

Marine Current Turbines has implemented a commercial-scale demonstration project with SeaGen in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Since November 2008, two axial turbines with a combined capacity of 1.2 MW have been providing power to about 1,500 households.

SeaGen has to date fed more than 3 GWh of electricity into the grid. Further projects are at the planning stage, including the 8-MW Kyle Rhea project in Scotland and the 10-MW Anglesey Skerries project in Wales.

Tidal turbines generate electricity by using tidal current flows. The SeaGen turbine is fixed on a structure and is driven by the flow of the tides. This technology is effectively similar to a wind turbine, with the rotor blades driven not by wind power but by tidal currents.

Water has an energy density that is 800 times higher than that of wind. Twin rotors turn with the tidal current and optimally track the direction and speed of flow thanks to blades that can rotate through 180 degrees. A key advantage is that the generated power is precisely predictable in the tidal cycle.

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