One of the world's most promising ocean power companies, UK-based Marine Current Turbines, has been acquired by global energy and engineering leader Siemens AG (SIE:GY), which purchased the remaining stake in the company for an undisclosed sum.
Marine Current Turbines (MCT), developer of tidal power systems and one of the pioneering companies in the burgeoning ocean power sector, has already successfully implemented a commercial-scale project in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland, which began feeding the UK grid in 2008. The two-turbine, 1.2-megawatt SeaGen project generates power for approximately 1500 households, feeding more than three gigawatt-hours of electricity since going into service.
“The acquisition of Marine Current Turbines is an important step forward for the Solar & Hydro Division,” said Ted Scheidegger, CEO of the Solar & Hydro Division of Siemens Energy.
This is not Siemens initial investment in MCT. In November 2011, the company increased its stake in the tidal power company to 45 percent. Siemens says it is planning to complete the acquisition of Marine Current Turbines in the next few weeks.
In addition to the SeaGen project, MCT has several large-scale projects in development, including the 8-MW Kyle Rhea project in Scotland and the 10-MW Anglesey Skerries project in Wales.
“We will continue to drive the commercialization of this promising technology which harvest energy from highly predictable tidal streams," Siemens' Scheidegger said.
The promise of tidal power
Often overlooked in the renewable energy space, tidal turbines show a tremendous amount of promise in coastal regions with islands, estuaries and inlets. Tidal turbines generate electricity by utilizing tidal current flows that move around near-shore islands and inlets. Worldwide, the potential for power generated by tidal power plants is estimated at 800 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually.
MCT's technology, much like an underwater wind turbine, is fixed on a structure and is driven by the flow of the tides, aided by the ability to swing 180 degrees and catch the tidal flow in both directions. Unlike wind, however, tidal power is 100-percent predictable, and can be planned for accordingly.
Water carries an energy density 800 times that of wind, as such, scientists say the tidal turbines spin at a slow enough speed to not present a danger to marine species.