Underwater turbines that harvest tidal currents have already become an established technology in the world of clean energy. So in order to push the frontier further, a group of engineers at Oxford have been tinkering away on a design that promises to be even more powerful and efficient. The group recently introduced an innovative Transverse Horizontal Axis Water Turbine that will not only collect more energy but require 60% lower manufacturing costs and 40% lower maintenance costs.

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The THAWT is considered to be a “second generation” turbine as opposed to the first generation models that resembled windmills. It consists of a cylindrical rotor that rolls around its long axis with the flow of water, instead of turning at right angles. Promising to be more efficient and powerful than other underwater turbines, each THAWT is predicted to produce 12 megawatts of energy – enough to power 12,000 family homes and significantly more than other underwater turbines of today.

Despite these achievements, concerns still exist regarding the ecological effects of erecting underwater turbines fields . Earlier this year, an underwater turbine was installed in Ireland’s Strangford Lough, and its makers claim that the propellers spin slowly enough to allow marine life to swim by unharmed (about 10 to 20 times a minute).

Although it has yet to be determined how this new model will take into account the critters of the sea, Steph Merry, head of marine renewable energy at the Renewable Energy Association, has stated that they taking into full consideration the “balance between the need to tackle climate change and the requirements to safeguard the ecology of tidal areas.”

+ Oxford University

+ Renewable Energy Association

Via Guardian UK