Scotland, like many other European areas, must comply with regulations requiring that a mandatory percentage of the energy it uses comes from renewable sources. For Scotland, this percentage will be 18% in 2010 and 40% by 2020. In "Tidal farming's new wave," Red Herring explains this why Scotland is very supportive of Ian Bryden's sea "Snail" program. The Snail is a 30-ton anchoring device which uses hydrofoils -- wings that "fly" in the water -- to generate enough power from tidal waves to service 10,000 homes by 2007.
Here is the introduction of Red Herring's article.
After losing the wind wars to the Danes in the early Ď80s, Scotland is on the verge of owning a small, yet significant new power market -- tidal energy.
Inventors have long dreamt of harnessing energy from the daily ebb and flow of ocean tides using underwater windmills. Yet a large-scale tidal farm has remained elusive -- at least, until now. Making use of Scotland's geographic assets and answering a renewed call for an energy alternative, Aberdeen scientist Ian Bryden is putting his new invention, "the Snail," to work.
So what exactly is the "Snail"?
At Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University, Mr. Bryden has circumvented traditional turbine designs. His brainchild, the Snail, is a 15x12 meter (roughly 49x39 feet) anchoring device that uses hydrofoils -- what scientists describe as wings that "fly" in water -- to generate more than 200 tons of downward force to the seabed. Six dragon-like wings attach the unit to the national grid.
Here is a picture of a prototype of the Snail with its six wings (Credit: Robert Gordon University)
Red Herring also says that the Snail will cost less than traditional technologies relying on turbines. So when will the Snails invade the seas?
The first experimental tidal farm, to be launched in 2007, will yield just 5MW at first, enough for around 10,000 homes. While possessing only enough energy to power less than one quarter one percent of Scotlandís population, it would mark a significant first step for the emerging technology.
Scotland has identified Orkney's Pentland Firth and Shetland's Yell Sound -- about 330 miles north of Edinburgh -- as its best sites for harnessing tidal power. Both have sea channels and are exposed to the Atlantic, making the area a prime location for capturing big tidal movements. An energy test site has already been built using a local investment of 5 million pounds ($9.18 million).
Providing that this technology is licensed to one or several developers, other European countries will also be able to use Snails to produce clean energy at reasonable costs.
For more information, you might want to check this news release from Robert Gordon University, "University Research Team Poised for SNAIL launch."
Sources: Red Herring, March 25, 2004; Robert Gordon University