An incredible tidal power project will be be completed in 2012 off the coast of France near Paimpol-Bréhat in Brittany. Sponsored by OpenHydro, a tidal technology company from Ireland, and French utility company EDF, the project will include four massive 850-ton turbines. Once completed, the turbines will harness the power of the tides, providing enough energy to power 4,000 homes in the region, and it will become the world's largest tidal power array.
The $55 million project was conceived in 2004, with construction starting in 2008, and set to be complete early next year. OpenHydro has similar projects in North America and the United Kingdom, but this new French turbine system will be the world’s first large scale grid-connected tidal energy farm, setting the bar for other nations of the world.
OpenHydro is supplying the four 2-MW turbines, 115 deep off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat. The turbines are each 72 feet in diameter and are anchored along the seabed.
Along with solar power and wind turbines, tidal energy is an important renewable energy source, and underutilized at the moment.
A major benefit of tidal turbine farms versus wind and solar farms is that they operate site unseen. From the surface, the turbines are invisible and noiseless. OpenHydro states that the farms have no affect on the neighboring communities.
Each turbine was designed with a large open center, to allow marine life to pass through without risk of being caught or entangled in the blades. The turbine also turns without pollutants such as oils and greases, and produce little mechanical noise underwater.
The tidal farm will be in operation next year, when the world will be watching to gauge its effectiveness and profitability.