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Tidal and marine currents energy exploitation


The objective of the project is to assess the possibilities and potential of exploiting tidal and marine currents for power generation in Europe. The results of the project will permit the evaluation of effective development schemes for the exploitation of tidal and marine currents to generate energy and of future large scale application in electric utility systems.
The possibility of exploiting tidal and marine currents for power generation has so far received little attention in Europe. Therefore a general assessment of the resources along the European coasts and an evaluation of the technologies suitable for effective energy extraction may be highly advantageous to the European Community.
Marine currents, which represent a large renewable energy resource, can make a significant contribution to meeting energy demand both in isolated coastal areas or islands and for basic supply by integration in or substitution of energy systems based on conventional resources like oil, gas or coal. The project will cover the following main aspects:
- characterisation of the resources along the European coastline, development of a database with detailed information on tidal currents and identification of the most promising locations;
- technology suitable for exploiting currents, including power extraction and electricity transport technologies, equipment for undersea use, system management and operation;
The project will be conclude with a "case study" which facilitate validation of the guidelines and design criteria developed to identify cost-effective solutions to extract energy from the marine currents in a usable form. The duration of the project is estimated at 12 months with Companies participating to the project from Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Greece.
Strong marine current resources were identified at 106 European locations. It is estimated that these could supply 48 TWh per year to Europe's grid network simply using existing knowledge and conventional technology. This renewable energy source is especially attractive because it can provide large scale electricity production with little noise, pollution and land use, and there is virtually no visual impact. The energy resource is predictable over time so that planned base load power contributions are possible. Although the energy source is diffuse, it is more intense at good sites than other forms of renewables. Capacity factors are better than average, in the 40-60% range. The size of the resource is important for the UK, Greece, France and Italy. Luckily, the areas offshore most likely to produce an adequate amount of electricity are in regions where strengthening the grid could be beneficial.
The project is aimed at proposing general guidelines and technological solutions for dealing with situation of exploiting tidal and marine currents (currents associated to tides).
At present no databases exist, with detailed information on tidal currents, comparable to existing databases containing information on other marine environmental data (particularly the wind and wave climate) for some European waters. A general assessment of the resources along the European coasts is therefore of great interest. It will allow to address future initiatives and R&D activities.
An updated assessment of the technologies suitable for an effective energy extraction is worth wile in view of drawing technology from wind generator industry, the offshore industry and other well developed industries. The R&D challenge is how to take advantage from the advanced technologies proposed and supplied by the European industry and to implement them in a new field of activity.
Last but not least a new approach is considered: the exploitation system for tidal energy not based on the water head, but on the kinetic energy of the currents associated to the tides. A new and wider spectrum of opportunities to exploit tidal and marine currents is then open.
This approach will rid tidal energy exploitation from the problem of the ashore reservoir and from the problem of the surface barrage with significant reduction of the environmental impact. Moreover underwater exploitation system for tidal current can be made of standard size, and located in water with modest risk of interference with the surface activities.
The project is subdivided in two main technical parts.
The first part focuses on a general assessment of the potential for current energy exploitation in Europe. Subject of this part is the assessment of the resources along the European coast and the assessment of the technology suitable and cost-effective for the tidal and marine currents energy extraction, including energy converters, mechanical and electrical components, control, electricity transport, equipment marinisation, marine operations and systems operations. It provides guidelines and design criteria to identify effective development scheme and related technologies.
The second part develops a case study based on a significant promising location. Scope of this part is to verify the activities performed in the first phase of the project and to implement the achieved results to a specific case. The Strait of Messina (South of Italy) is promising from an energetic point of view and has been chosen as reference for the case study.
The results of the project may constitute the basis for the development of operative prototypes to be tested in field, to demonstrate their effectiveness and efficiency by supplying electric energy to authentic utilities.
The joint involvement of industrial enterprises and governmental energy authorities is fundamental to the success of the project and assures the interest for future exploitation of the results.
An hypothesis is offered by the development of a prototype for the Strait of Messina which is the case study object of the second part of this project.

Call for proposal

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San Marco 3584
30124 Venezia

Participants (6)

Via Pozzobonelli 6
20162 Milano
United Kingdom
The Warren, Bramshill Road
RG27 0PR Hook Eversley,hants
J M Voith GmbH

89509 Heidenheim
Ponte di Archimede Nello Stretto di Messina SpA
Via Libertà 515
98100 Messina
Tecnomare UK Ltd
United Kingdom
24-30 Great Titchfield Street
W1P 7AD London
University of Patras
Campus At Rio
26110 Patras