Gallery: Underwater Kite Turbines Harvest Energy From Ocean Waves


Wave power generators generally take the form of sea snake-like designs that sit atop rolling waves, gathering kinetic energy and turning it into power. However a new idea combines the worlds of wind power and wave power to create underwater kite-turbines. Designed by Swedish renewable energy company Minesto, each underwater kite spans 8-14 meters and features a turbine attached to its underbelly. Each kit is tethered to the sea floor and it can “fly” with the tidal stream in a figure-8 motion.

Working under the same principles as the Seagen Turbine (pictured above), the kite-turbine’s blades are turned by the movement of passing tides. But the swooping motion of the kites amplify the speed of the water flowing through the turbine 10 fold – similar to the way sail boats gather speed by cutting across the wind. Furthermore, the kite has neutral buoyancy, so doesn’t sink as the tide turns, and the turbine mouth is protected to keep fish from flying through.

Ander Jansson, Minesto’s managing director, told the Guardian that the kite should work in flows of 1 – 2.5 meters per second, while first-generation devices need over 2.5 meters per second. Depending on the location and size of the kites, each will have a capacity of between 150 and 800 kW, and be deployed in waters 50-300 meters deep. The technology’s first test at Strangford Loch, Ireland will be at one-tenth scale.

Over the next 18 months the UK Carbon Trust and Invest Northern Ireland will spend $564,000 to fund trials as the UK strives to meet its ever-more ambitious environmental goals. Harnessing the power of the ocean presents many challenges, not least the economic cost. Two turbines with a combined capacity of 1MW could cost over $3m, and commercial viability will rely heavily on economies of scale.

Check out the video below to see just how Minesto aims to capture the awesome power of the sea.

YouTube Preview Image

Via Guardian


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  1. Brandon Barker November 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I assume the concern for protecting sea life is great. Why does it need to be in the ocean though? Can\’t this idea be used in man made tanks with no ecosystem?

  2. germ10 December 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    This will still have an effect on fish. If this turbine spins fast enough then the energy created by the fins to pull things into it will be immense and although fish will not go through the turbine might get caught on the protective barrier and be unable to swim off. I am not an activist or anything and i think that even if this is a risk it is necessary I’m just saying don’t you think that you will have problems with fish getting stuck on the protective net or whatever is protecting it.

  3. mmiikkkk March 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    What about smaller ones for rivers? No dams or obstacles for fish.

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