Resources Corporation, a vertically integrated marine renewable
power company, has built the world's
largest tidal turbine and shipped it from Invergordon,
Scotland to the European
Marine Energy Centre off the coast of Orkney for testing.
AK-1000, a 130-ton, 73-foot tall metal tidal turbine with twin
rotating blades, has taken Atlantis Resources Corp. a decade to
complete and cost it $7.5 million. This
massive turbine will act as an "underwater windmill,"
and is the largest installation ever planned.
AK-1000 will generate 1 megawatt of energy right away, which can
power approximately 1,000 homes in Scotland. By 2013, the turbine is
expected to generate 150 megawatts of power and then, by 2020, it
will boost up to 700 megawatts. This may look like a perfect
situation, and while it is a progressive step toward new avenues in
renewable energy, it isn't exactly risk-free.
that the AK-1000 has made the journey to the European Marine Energy
Centre, installers now face element-related problems such as 50-foot
waves and 11 degree temperatures in order to put
the turbine in place and connect it to the electrical grid.
The reason for these intense conditions is that areas with strong
waves are the most fitting spots this kind of equipment. But while
it's ideal for tidal turbines, it makes installation problematic, and
the addition of maintenance problems has caused public utility
companies like the California-based Pacific Gas and Electric Company
(PG&E) to turn away from plans to use tidal power, such as under
the Golden Gate Bridge.
2007, PG&E commissioned an engineering report for the Golden Gate
Bridge project but soon lost interest because of high costs and
unproven technology. The project is currently on hold. The United
States government alone only has a handful of marine energy projects
that are active, but most
recent reports indicate that Ocean Renewable Power Company
in Maine has just announced that they've successfully installed the
"largest ocean energy power plant ever installed in U.S.
waters." Europe, on the other hand, has a half-dozen that
are operational with an additional 20 that are either pending or in
though the use of tidal turbines can be risky and problematic,
Cleantech analyst Federica Dalamel notes that marine energy is still
in "its infancy" and that there are several technologies to
consider in this category such as salinity gradient, thermal
gradient, wave and tidal energies that are still evolving. There is a
large amount of potential for marine energy, and according to
Dalamel, if all four of these technologies became commercially
viable, their combined energy would produce
six times the world's energy consumption.