After two years of testing, the invention by a start-up from Grou is nearly ready to be introduced to the market
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Maurits Alberda and three colleagues from SeaQurrent sit on a fifty-metre long pontoon, one nautical mile out to sea, for five days every week. The pontoon is located off the coast by Cornwerd in Friesland, in the Wadden Sea. The team sleep in containers, eat in a temporary ‘canteen’ and do repairs in rain and wind: all to test whether their ‘under-water flyer’ is the future to our energy needs. As reported in the Leeuwarder Courant.
The Tidal Kite, as its called, is being tested in an area of sea that has been cordoned-off by the Rijkswaterstaat, so that its creators can see how the technology works in the real-world. This technology was first thought-up in 2013 by Youri Wentzel: he wanted to find a way to derive energy from the ebb and flow of the tide.
His solution is ingenious: using turbines that use the water in the same way as a wind-mill is run by the wind. One large problem to overcome with the technology is that the tide does not have uniform strength across the sea, and the depth of the sea in some areas makes having large turbines tricky.
As long as the turbines are neither vertical nor horizontal, then power can be generated- but this also proves to be an issue. Wentzel took inspiration from kite-surfers, who have to keep their kites at a certain angle to generate enough lift. SeaQurrent is using this principle in its Tidal Kite: with the kits made of aluminium and cutting-edge polymers instead of material.
The Tiday Kite is connected by a steel cable, connected to a hydraulic pump and generator. One kite, which measures around 12 metres by 7 metres, can make enough energy for 700 houses. The testing off the coast of Cornwerd is an important step towards bringing the SeaKite to market.
Image via SeaQurrent. 1) is the kite, 2) is the tether, 3) the power unit, 4) mooring structure, and 5) the cable to shore