Prototype that extracts energy from underwater currents gets £878k government funding

Britain has confirmed its position as the world leader in marine renewable technology, after planning permission was officially granted for a prototype tidal stream generator in the Humber Estuary near Grimsby.

The prototype will be positioned off the south bank of the Humber at Upper Burcom near Stallingborough.

Developed by Pulse Tidal, with a backing from the government of £878,000, the pulse generator has the potential to generate up to 0.15 MW, and will be one of the first tidal power machines to supply the national grid.

It works by extracting energy from underwater currents in a manner similar to wind turbines, using energy from tidal flows to power a pair of straight horizontal hydrofoils, 11m in length. These then move up and down in imitation of a dolphin’s tail.

If successful, the generator will be used to develop larger 1 MW units which could be deployed in arrays, each generating up to 100 MW – enough to power the equivalent of 70,000 homes.

Secretary of state for energy, John Hutton granted the planning permission. “Our continued support for these emerging technologies is essential if the UK is to cement its position as a world leader in marine,” he said. “This kind of tidal project, if proven, will go some way to helping the UK meet its ambitious targets for clean, green energy.”