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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 07:30 GMT
Sea change for energy generation
By Arthur Strain
BBC News

The turbine will be deployed in Strangford Lough

A new date has been set to install the world's first turbine to create commercial amounts of electricity.

Plans to install SeaGen in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, were shelved last year after problems securing a vessel to plant the system.

It will now be deployed by a crane barge at the end of March, makers Marine Current Turbines said.

SeaGen has the capacity to generate 1.2MW of electricity, four times more than any other tidal turbine.

The lough has one of the world's fastest tidal flows and the firm says the turbine can produce electricity for 1,000 homes.

Turbine will operate in Strangford Lough for up to five years
Turbine will operate in Strangford Lough for up to five years

SeaGen will be installed by the crane barge Rambiz, in an operation which will take up to 14 days.

The turbine will first be picked up from Harland and Wolff in Belfast after final assembly.

A team of environmental scientists will be in the lough to monitor the turbine's operation and effect on marine life.

Strangford is breeding ground for common seals, but the company says that the speed of the rotors is so low - no more than 10 to 15 revolutions per minute it is said - that they are unlikely to pose a threat to marine wildlife.

Martin Wright, managing director of MCT, said there was global interest in the device and that it could be a springboard for the further development of the marine energy industry.

"We have carried out extensive engineering and environmental studies to ensure the very best means of installation and operation," he said.

"As long as the weather is good and there are no last minute operational issues to contend with, we should have SeaGen deployed by the end of March."

MCT intends to manufacture and deploy a series of SeaGen devices in projects off Anglesey and on the Canadian seaboard within the next two to four years.

World tidal energy first for NI
07 Jun 07 |  Northern Ireland

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