"Lawnmower" Tidal Turbines Could Produce Electricity at Half the Price

tide coming in at Brighton UK photo

By some estimates, the UK could generate 5-15 gigawatts of electricity using tidal turbines. Photo: Franny Dynamite.

About six weeks ago we reported on the world's first commercial-scale tidal turbine, SeaGen, beginning the first stage of its operations. SeaGen, like most other tidal turbines works a bit like a wind turbine tuned on its side, spinning as water moves past the blades and generating electricity.

However, a new tidal turbine design unveiled yesterday by engineers from Oxford University, which The Guardian describes as being a "lawnmower" design (probably not the best image, even if accurate in form), looks to change the shape of wave power:
Say It With Me, Transverse Horizontal Axis Water Turbine

At full size, a Transverse Horizontal Axis Water Turbine (Thawt) rotor would be 10m in diameter and 60m long. Connecting two of these together with a generator in the middle could produce around 12MW of power, enough for 12,000 average family homes.

The Thawt device is mechanically far less complicated than anything available today, meaning it would cost less to build and maintain. "The manufacturing costs are about 60% lower, the maintenance costs are about 40% lower," said Malcolm McCulloch, head of the electrical power group at Oxford's engineering department.

transverse horizontal axis water turbine image
Installation Costs About Half Present Tidal Turbines
McCulloch went on to say that Thawts (there's got to be a better name for these...) could be installed for a bit more than half the cost of present tidal turbine designs: £1.7 million per megawatt, versus about £3 million per megawatt for existing turbines.

More at :: The Guardian.

Second image: The Guardian
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