Could wind farms of the future be underwater? Company plans submerged turbines...

Could wind farms of the future be underwater? Company plans submerged turbines off the coast of Scotland

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Wind turbines are often bemoaned for their unsightly appearance, noise and danger to local wildlife - but what if we put them underwater? That’s exactly what Caithness-based company MeyGen, owned by Atlantis Resources Ltd, plan to do with their initial £51m ($82m) underwater turbine project. By the end of the year they plan to install turbines off the Scottish coast and they say the technology could be used as a more environmentally friendly source of green energy in future. It’s thought that harnessing its energetic waters could power up to a third of Scotland. The first turbines are set to be placed at the turn of the new year, with more being placed over the next few years. Unlike wind turbines, underwater turbines would never be ‘off’ as there is a constant flow of water. MeyGen’s turbines are slightly smaller than their land counterparts but generate a similar amount of electricity a year - about one megawatt - and the company plans to eventually build several hundred. This would be enough to power 175,000 homes. They rotate 12 to 14 times a minute, while compared to regular wind turbines they are slightly more ‘stubby’ with smaller blades.

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Speaking to MailOnline, Meygen CEO Dan Pearson said he hoped Phase 1 of construction would be completed by the end of 2016. He explained that the turbines will be about 0.9 miles (1.5km) from the shore and they will be ‘on a par with wind turbines’ in terms of their productivity.

‘The costs are higher but this is brand new technology,’ he adds. ‘We have to make it work first.’ Mr Pearson is also adamant there won’t be significant danger to nearby marine life. And MeyGen’s project will be in quite shallow water, meaning the turbines can be dropped down by a crane. By the early 2020s they want to deploy up to 398 megawatts of offshore tidal stream turbines for the UK National Grid. And there are further plans to exploit the Pentland Firth over the next two decades, installing 1,000 turbines that will generate 1.6 gigawatts of energy, enough for more than a million homes.

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HOW THE UNDERWATER WIND FARM WILL WORK

The turbines will be lined up 525ft (160 metres) apart, weighted down by scrap metal. As the water depth in the Pentland Firth is about 130ft (40 metres), small craft will be able to sail over the area of about four square miles (10.4 square kilometres) without fear of hitting them. When complete in 2020, the Pentland Firth project will generate enough electricity for 400,000 homes. There are further plans to exploit the Pentland Firth over the next two decades, installing 1,000 turbines that will generate 1.6 gigawatts of energy, enough for more than a million homes. Because the waters are so rough, little fishing takes place and there is no danger to fish life as the blades revolve so slowly. The turbine farm, which will be clearly marked on charts, is well away from sensitive military areas where Royal Navy submarines operate.

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  • dozr

    “Wind farms” underwater…….. and you want us to read your crap?

    • Clayton Bigsby

      awwww Dozr are you gwnna cwyy :(

      • dozr

        yea….

  • jopie1978

    Stop whining im glad someone writes a nice article about projects like these. This is applied sience en mechanics and i like reading this sort of stuff.

    Turbines are mostly noisy so this could nice project. My initial thought is that it should be too expensive during its lifecycle to be profitable. But well see, keep those articles comming!

    • dozr

      yea please keep the inaccurate terminology coming.

  • Ian Brodrick

    Yeah there called water turbines, bloody hell, look up your science man.

  • Gregory Caste

    This will not work. I did research for three years for a renewable energy company. Quick summary: the replacement cost is too high because it’s underwater, there is too much resistance because the sea is a corrosive environment, its efficiency decreases (just like wind) when anything is attached to the turbine. The company used the same stock photo five years ago.

    • Helado Gratis

      Why they have to be made of metal? why cant be some kiind of plastic sealing everything that really needs to be metal?

      • Nathan173AB

        Underwater turbines are used in in the East River for New York City, and I recall that they initially had problems with the turbines breaking because the current was so strong. So yeah, there are technical challenges but they do use them so it’s not like it doesn’t work. I get the impression that Gregory Castle is trying to sound smarter and knowledgeable than he really is.

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  • Carmine Mario Covino

    Andrew Ryan did it better, he built a whole city under the sea - Rapture.
    Of course the above statement is a mere joke: Rapture exist in an alternate timeline.

  • JAB

    Agree with others that it’s sloppy to say “wind” farms. My question is how can Mr Pearson be “adamant there won’t be significant danger to nearby marine life” before any deployment/testing? I’m 100% for investing in renewable energy, but impacts on wildlife need to be taken very seriously as they can disrupt entire ecosystems leading to surprising impacts for us humans… Real wind farms are significantly harming birds of prey which are so important for keeping our rodent populations in check.