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Tidal stream generators

Tidal stream generatorsTidal streams are fast moving sections of water caused by the motion of the tide. These usually occur in shallow water.

How does it work?

Tidal stream generators look and work like underwater wind turbines. As opposed to using the rising and falling movement of the tides, tidal stream generators take advantage of the fast moving sea currents (tidal streams), which flow when tides are moving in and out. These tidal streams cause the turbines to rotate, turning the generators which generate electricity.

Tidal stream generators have the advantage of being much cheaper to build, and do not have as much of an environmental impact as a tidal barrage. The turbines turn relatively slowly, hence do not affect sea life. This is different to tidal barrages which can disrupt fish migrating up rivers from the sea.

Tidal stream generators in the UK

There are a range of tidal stream generators of varying sizes across the UK. As this is still an area of technology which has much scope for development, these examples are still in the first stage of their development.

The largest, a full size, prototype called SeaGen was installed in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland in April 2008. This turbine can generate just over 1.2 MW (megawatts) at full power. At present another prototype is being tested in Orkney, Scotland.

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