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Engineers using Moon's gravity to generate power

Posted: 09 Oct 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Moon  gravity  renewable energy  solar power  wind technology 

There is nothing romantic about the moon, atleast for Phil Scott, a business manager at GE Power Conversion. He sees the object of love somewhat differently. For him, the tides caused by moon's gravity are the perfect source of renewable energy, more predictable and reliable than wind or solar power.

Scott says, "Some tides off the coast of U.K. clock in at seven meters per second. It's a force of nature begging to be leveraged."

GE engineers have installed the first tidal turbines on the sea floor around the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. They resemble large ship propellers submerged in 180 to 240 feet of water and use turbines adapted from wind technology. The turbines stand in strategic "pinch points" where the tides rush through a narrow channel between an island and the headland. So far the Orkney turbines have pumped more than 15 megawatt hours of electricity into the local grid.


GE engineers have tapped the low and high tides to generate renewable electricity.

The GE team is currently talking about supplying power converters and generators for a second 10-megawatt underwater turbine array in northwest Scotland.

Engineers estimate that UK's total theoretical tidal range resource is estimated at between 25 and 30 gigawatts – enough to supply around 12 per cent of UK's power demands.

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