First commercially viable underwater turbine has been connected to the National Grid

Tidal power has finally begun to make a viable contribution to the UK’s electricity, as the first commercial underwater turbine was plugged into the National Grid.

The huge force of the tide around the UK coast is estimated to be capable of generating anything between five and 15 gigawatts of power, but the technology has for years been beset by a range of problems from the sheer force of storm conditions right through to an issue close to boat owners’ hearts – marine fouling. But Bristol-based tidal energy company Marine Current Turbines say they now have a viable solution with SeaGen, a 1.2MW turbine placed in Strangford Lough.

MCT installed the turbine in May, choosing Strangford Lough for its seven-knot tidal currents. The turbine is currently producing about 150kW, with a target of 300kW by the end of the summer before finally ramping to full capacity. If this is successful, MCT hope to expand rapidly elsewhere. “Our next site will be off the coast of Anglesey, the initial farm is about 10.5MW,” said managing director Martin Wright. “The resource up there is about 350MW.”

Other potential sites include the Pentland Firth, the Channel Islands and Severn Estuary.

Find out more about SeaGen here