A clever new technology transforms low-flow tidal currents into a cost-effective renewable energy source. We have included the video of the invention at the end of our article.
Using tidal currents
Providing clean and affordable energy to island communities is a major challenge. Due to their size and isolation, small islands typically depend on imported fossil fuels for their energy supply, a highly costly and polluting process.
The EU-funded DGIM2 project showed the Faroe Islands a solution to meet these challenges by providing green and affordable energy. It is based on a unique underwater kite technology called Deep Green, developed by Minesto, the host of the project.
“The main goal of the DGIM2 project was to bring Deep Green technology to market. We have successfully tested the ability of these power plants to replace diesel generators in microgrids,” said Martin Edlund, CEO of Minesto. The technology uses renewable energy from low-flow tidal currents and feeds them into a power grid.
How does the system work?
Imagine flying a kite in the wind. When you move the kite sideways, you will notice that it flies faster. “This is how Minesto CTO Bernt Erik Westre conveys the way it works, imagine connecting a turbine to a kite and putting it in the ocean with tidal currents instead of wind and you have the concept of our Deep Green technology.”
The turbine drives a generator that produces electricity. The “leash” holding the kite transfers electricity to an anchor point fixed to the seafloor. From there, a cable takes electricity to shore, where it feeds the grid. It is kite automatic control system on board.
This revolutionary technology offers several advantages over existing systems. While conventional tidal power requires rapid currents of over 2.5 meters per second, Deep Green can operate in low-flow areas that cover a much larger geographic area.
The lightweight system provides predictable renewable energy at relatively low operating and maintenance costs. This new type of power plant also offers the competitive advantage of operating completely underwater and out of sight, an important feature for islands where a large part of the economy depends on tourism.