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Pentland Firth's ocean power capacity less than initially thought, Oxford study says

Hydrokinetic resources in Scotland's Pentland Firth could eventually generate up to 1.9 GW of power, according to a new research led by Oxford University.

The study, available online here, concluded that Pentland Firth's generating potential is considerably lower than some earlier estimates because it accounts for factors including how many tidal turbines could realistically be built, how series of turbines would interact with each other, and fluctuations in tidal cycles.

"Our study provides the first robust data about how much energy it would be feasible to extract," said lead author Dr. Thomas Adcock of Oxford's Department of Engineering Science.

Unlike other studies, Adcock said, Oxford's used mathematical models to emphasize unit placement and how other turbines might affect efficiency and output. Researchers also used an averaged output projection to better determine the mean capacity between spring and neap tides.

Oxford said its study suggests the extraction of 500 MW of ocean energy is "very promising", with a maximum of 1 GW being "realistic".

"Building handfuls of tidal turbines in 'plots' of ocean leased out to individual developers is not going to extract the maximum energy from Pentland Firth," Adcock said. "To make the most of this unique site, the placement of turbines would need to be carefully planned."

HydroWorld.com reported in July 2012 that the United Kingdom's Department of Energy & Climate Change had launched the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park. Project developers then announced a collaboration with England's South West Marine Energy Park in March, allowing for more efficient research and development.

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