Marine energy technology company Minesto just unveiled a working version of their innovative marine power plant, which can produce energy from the movement of ocean currents. The device, called “Deep Green,” resembles an underwater kite and it consists of a hydrodynamic wing and a turbine that are anchored to the ocean bed with a tether. As water flows over device it lifts up the wing and rotates the turbine to generate electricity.
The wing is designed to bear high loads and withstand about 20 years of use. It’s really a multi-purpose structure that not only helps create lift, but can also hold batteries, pressure sensors, and systems that ensure buoyancy. The force-bearing tether attached to Deep Green also holds power cables that will transfer the generated energy back to the control system.
Deep Green can be installed in deeper sites with slower ocean currents than other existing marine power plants, making it a major potential source of energy for island and coastal nations which currently have to rely on imported energy. Not only are there a great number of potential sites available, but because the kite always sits 20 meters or more below the surface of the water, it has a minimal visual and environmental impact on the surrounding area.
The first sea trial of the device has just taken place off the coast of Northern Ireland, and the results so far are promising. Already, Deep Green is generating completely renewable energy simply drifting in the sea. Minesto is now beginning to plan a larger-scale installation somewhere in the UK for 2015 to see if the concept can actually generate enough power to be a viable alternative to fossil fuel power plants.