The Humber estuary’s tidal stream will power a 20m platform’s hidden turbine – and Treasury secretary Danny Alexander should glimpse it on a visit to Hull this week
The gradual development of tidal generating power, which has the advantage of generating less controversy than wind turbines, has taken another step forward in the Humber estuary.
The yellow Neptune Proteus device is moored 60 metres offshore with buoyancy tanks sustaining fascinating gadgetry which is explained in detail on Neptune Renewable Energy‘s website. The Deep is the company’s first customer and ideal as for an eye-catching demonstration of how the fledgling system works.
Potentially, similar small but efficient units could be sited in areas of regular and reliable tidal streams, generating power as the water flows one way and then the other during the lunar cycle. The north is well-provided with such places, especially in estuaries; although a maritime version of the turbine controversy is easy to imagine if large numbers of them were to appear.
That’s for the future. Meanwhile, the Proteus will keep the lights and heating on at The Deep from April, after five years of research. Neptune hope to prove the system’s merits in reliability as well as cost: 3,500 fish depend on everything going smoothly in their display tanks.
Nigel Petrie, chairman of Neptune Renewable Energy, which is based in Hull and North Ferriby, says:
The development of the Neptune Proteus has paved the way for the design of our production model, arrays of which will provide a dedicated supply of clean power to major industries located on the Humber estuary and other suitable British locations. Supplying power to our first customer, The Deep, presents us with a great opportunity to raise the profile of our technology and of the potential for tidal stream power generation to make a significant contribution to meeting both commercial and domestic electricity demands.
In spite of the recession, the Humber remains the scene of much technological innovation and its docks, from Hull round to Immingham and Grimsby via Goole, have retained their place as the UK’s largest port. The combination of suitable tide and seabed conditions with potential customers onshore add to its appeal as a testbed for maritime renewable energy, which could, at the most optimistic estimates, provide 20 percent of current UK electricity needs.
The secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, will be in Hull on Friday to launch the Humber local economic partnership’s new forum, and tour the regeneration of Alexandra dock into the new Green Port Hull, which Siemens has chosen as the base for offshore wind turbine development.
Let’s hope his hosts point out the Proteus to him. He could have one just off Whitehall in the Thames.