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19 June, 2006 - 18:44 By Staff Reporter

Engineering firms to unveil next generation renewable energy technology by 2008

Cambridgeshire engineering firm, Peter Brotherhood Ltd, is to form a new company through a joint venture aimed at developing the next generation of tidal generators, crucial to this potentially massive power source’s future commercial success.

The Peterborough company has signed heads of agreement with Welsh renewable energy technology firm, Tidal Hydraulic Generators (THGL) to form Marine Energy Generation Ltd (MEG), which will develop two new products: HydroAir and Delta-Stream.

MEG hopes to have full-scale working models of both devices installed for demonstrative purpose at least by 2008.

UK carbon emissions watchdog, the Carbon Trust, believes that marine energy – wave and tidal power – could provide up to 20 per cent of the UK’s current electricity needs, but that it could only become cost-competitive in the long term as long as it received the right level of investment now.

A report produced for Scottish Enterprise by consultant, OTM, on opportunities in the marine renewable energy market, said the right kind of investment in wave and tidal energy could create a £90m UK market for technologies and services in the next few years.

It noted that the majority of work to date in renewables has focused on the wind and solar sectors, but more recently the generation of electricity from waves, tidal currents and tides has received renewed interest as some of the complexities of practically harnessing other forms of renewable energy become apparent.

The report picked out 11 potential key areas for tidal energy around the world, which included the UK as well as parts of Australia, Canada, North and South America, China and Russia.

Peter Brotherhood’s general manager for special projects, Gerry Spencer, said: “The market potential for tidal energy is huge. It is the most predictable of the wet renewables and the challenges are suited to our previous experience.

“THGL became aware of the work we had done on the Marine Energy Challenge, approached us and discussion led to the formation of the joint venture. We are hoping to get DTI funding for a project to put a full scale DeltaStream – a free standing tidal generation device that produces electricity from the sea bed – into EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre).”

EMEC was specifically established by Highlands and Islands Enterprise on Orkney to accelerate the development of marine power devices, initially through the operation of the testing centre. MEG aims to get DeltaStream installed there at some point over the next two years and then on to a demonstration site by 2010.

DeltaStream is self-fixing to the seabed and is designed to operate reliably for 20 years with regular servicing. The robust triangular shaped frame supports three turbine nacelles, uniquely designed to capture the maximum amount of energy from the resource.

It is designed to generate electricity at 11 kV, enabling power to be transmitted greater distances to shore than at lower voltages and reducing the subsea component count.

MEG will also look for funding through a DTI Innovation Grant to develop HydroAir and intends to build a full scale 400 kW HydroAir system by 2008. HydroAir represents the next generation of turbines used in oscillating water column (OWC) systems – a technology that uses wave motion to compress air through an air turbine to generate electrical power.

HydroAir is a complete power generation system, which incorporates a turbine, a generator, power conversion and control for use in OWC technology. It uses Peter Brotherhood’s extensive turbine design capabilities as well as the innovation skills of Cranfield University.

MEG’s investment costs and revenue targets remain confidential at this stage, but a world wide roll out is planned. Spencer said: “Initial marketing will be in the UK; however it will be, in tandem, rolled out to our network of agents.”

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