What’s next: Underwater turbines to produce renewable energy

As we know it

We are well aware of underwater wind turbines, or what we usually call tidal turbines, whose rotors are propelled by tidal currents instead of wind. East River in New York is being subjected to the largest experiment of this new concept of generating power using renewable tidal energy. This arrangement of 16-feet diameter rotors is capable of delivering power to a supermarket and a parking garage.

Siemens Underwater Turbine

The turbines are designed to look like bladed wind turbines. Each has a diameter of about 15-60 feet. One of such structures was placed in the East River of New York in December and five more are going to be installed within May.

Need for change





Because we continuously using non-renewable sources of energy, it is about time we looked for new ways to generate energy for industrial and domestic purposes. After all, these energy sources are not available forever. Tidal energy could emerge as a great alternative and renewable source. Underwater ocean currents have the capability to produce more power than terrestrial turbines.

Also, tidal power farms derive energy from the earth’s rotation by using the gravitational energy of the moon and sun. These generators are interconnected to local substation to transmit power.

What’s next?

1. ERAU researcher’s underwater turbine

ERAU researcher’s underwater turbines

What’s new?





The ERAU researcher’s underwater turbine is the newest of the prevalent turbines that is mainly based on the concept of synchronous movement of turbines just like a cluster of fish to trap underwater currents. These turbines will be interlinked by sensors.

What difference will it make?

The underwater turbines will reduce pollution in many ways. Not only will it reduce air pollution as produced by terrestrial power stations, but it would also eliminate noise pollution. Moreover the clean renewable energy will give an output which is around 21,000 times more than that produced in the Niagara Falls.

Problems

But due to the installation of these underwater turbines, the marine eco-system could be potentially hampered thus affecting the stability of lives of marine organisms.

2. Florida Atlantic University’s Underwater Ocean Turbines





Florida Atlantic University's Underwater Ocean Turbines

What’s new?

Oceans are a massive storehouse of potential source of energy. And for this, a new technology is being worked upon that will cultivate itself on the Gulf Stream currents thereby meeting up with the energy demand of entire Florida. Well, for this they are working hard to design the Florida Atlantic University’s underwater ocean turbines.

What difference will it make?

The underwater turbine will be placed just of the coast of Florida where the Gulf stream current passes through. It will be more than 100 feet in diameter. The underwater equipment would have cables attached to buoys that will transfer the electricity generated. The Gulf stream has billions of litres of water flowing per minute and hence a large energy can be generated per hour from it.

Problems

Installing these turbines takes a lot of time and a lot of foolproof research. This is one of the major hurdles facing them. On the other hand, the marine ecosystem may be hampered due to these underground ocean turbines.

3. Siemens Underwater Turbine

Siemens Underwater Turbine

What’s new?

Siemens is also planning to setup a tidal power plant as it fetches renewable source of energy. The power will be produced by two large underwater rotors. It recently secured a stake in SeaGen and is planning to setup a power plant of 1.2 MW in the Irish Sea. In order to harness power during both ebb and floods, the rotor blades are pitched to an angle of 180 degrees when the tide turns.

What difference will it make?

The power produced from it can be delivered to 1500 houses. Planned to be set up at on the coast outside of Scotland by the year 2014, these powerhouses are to provide electricity to more than 8,000 households. According to the International Energy Agency, more than 800 billion kilowatt years can be conveniently generated from marine currents. Thus the demand of energy all over the world can significantly be brought down.

Problems

Only time can tell the future course of this concept that will be the deciding factor in calculating the time it would take for these power plants to be fully operational. Installing rotor parts in the deep ocean depths may take some time and the ecosystem could be hampered.