image source: Hammerfest Strøm
How can it be a wind farm if it is underwater? Well, you are right. But although wind farms have become iconic images, the average person still has trouble envisioning the many techniques being tested for harvesting the power of tides. Scottish Power has announced intentions to develop the the world’s largest tidal stream project using the world’s most advanced tidal turbine - known as the Lànstrøm device.
What again? No image pops to mind? So the analogy stands: a wind farm under the sea! Each turbine is 30 meters (100 feet) tall, with blades of 20 meters. They can operate in depths up to 100 meters. Most importantly, tidal power provides a predictable and constant energy source; it does not suffer from blackouts like solar power, or still days, like wind power.
If permission is granted in summer 2009 as planned, the Scottish Power installations would be the first commercial underwater tidal turbine farms in the world. With timely permits, three sites with up to 20 turbines each could be operational by 2011. Each turbine produces 1 MW for a total of 60 MW installed capacity -- or enough to power 40,000 homes.
The Lànstrøm turbines have undergone four years of testing in Norway, where they were developed by the company Hammerfest Strøm. The installations in Scotland represent further testing scale operations.
Two sites are planned in Scotland, in the Pentland Firth and the Sound of Islay, and a third off of Ireland's North Antrim coast.
Thanks to tipster James.