The Dutch company SeaQurrent®, with support of the Waddenfonds, the Province of Friesland, De Nieuwe Afsluitdijk and in cooperation with the University of Groningen, is developing an ‘underwater kite’ – the TidalKite™ – with which sustainable energy can be generated from tidal currents. A scale model of the system is being tested in the Wadden Sea, near Kornwerderzand. This area is perfectly suited to test the TidalKite, because the TidalKite is specifically developed for the conditions that prevail in the Wadden Sea, shallow water with relatively low velocities.
Testing in the Wadden Sea; applicable worldwide
The mentioned conditions are also the most common worldwide, for which conventional technologies, such as tidal turbines, are not suitable. The efficient ‘harvesting’ of energy in this type of waters therefore requires a radically different approach and an innovative solution. The challenge is to combine efficiency, reliability and low costs. SeaQurrent succeeded in this. One TidalKite has a capacity of 500kW and can generate sufficient energy to power 700 households. The TidalKite system has the deployment potential to supply millions of households with sustainable electricity worldwide.
How does TidalKite work?
Below the water surface, the TidalKite ‘flies’ fully autonomously from left to right, perpendicular to the direction of the tidal flow. The kite (1) consists of several wings and is tethered (2) to a Power Take-Off (3). These wings generate (‘lift’) an enormous tensile force (‘lift’), which is then cleverly converted by the PTO into electricity. The system mooring (4) fixes the system to the seabed and the electricity is transported onshore by an electric export cable (5).
Why tidal energy?
The great advantage of tidal energy is its predictability and capability to produce renewable electricity almost 24/7/365. Moreover, there is no horizon pollution and the TidalKite system is designed by SeaQurrent in such a way that it will have virtually no impact on underwater life. It is therefore a good addition to other sustainable technologies, easy to deploy and it greatly improves the security of supply of renewable energy.
The test on the Wadden Sea
As a follow-up to previous successful tests at MARIN (Maritime Research Institute Netherlands in Wageningen), SeaQurrent tests a (1:10) scale model of the TidalKite in the Wadden Sea for several months. From a moored barge, SeaQurrent will be regularly flying the TidalKite to perform a series of tests. The purpose of the tests is to demonstrate the complete system and its operation in a relevant environment (at sea). In addition, ecological research is being carried out from the pontoon, which results in a further enrichment of the knowledge about the Wadden Sea nature and knowledge relevant for future application of the TidalKite technology.
Collaboration Wadden Islands
If the first tests-campaign near the Afsluitdijk is successful, the scale model of the system will also be tested at a different location in the Wadden Sea next year. At the end of 2019, the system is planned to be ready for testing at full scale. Then the electricity produced can also be used to power the Wadden Islands. Future TidalKite installations will operate completely under water and will not be visible from the surface, in order to keep the peaceful and vast Wadden Sea landscape intact. In the Dutch Wadden Sea area there is enough potential for the TidalKite to provide sustainable electricity for fifty thousand Dutch households
The TidalKite can contribute to stop climate change and help protect the exceptional values of this World Heritage and at the same time contribute to the sustainability of the Wadden Islands and the coastal region