Underwater kite energy system to be trialled in Northern Ireland

An underwater kite, which is tethered to the seabed and ‘flies’ through the sea current carrying a turbine, is to be trialled off the coast of Northern Ireland

The Carbon Trust has provided a £350,000 research and development grant to tidal energy company Minesto for the first seagoing trials of its prototype seakite device, called Deep Green.

If trials are successful, Minesto plans to deploy enough devices around the UK’s coastline to generate up to 530GWh a year by 2020, enough to power the annual electricity needs for all households in a city approximately the size of Newcastle.

According to the Carbon Trust, this technology has the potential to unlock new tidal resources because it can operate in slower currents than other tidal energy technologies. Deep Green flies in a figure of eight movement, steered by a rudder, allowing it to effectively accelerate the speed of the water entering the turbine.

“The UK boasts some of the best tidal resources in the world and we are focussed on bringing down the cost of extracting that energy,” said Benj Sykes, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust. He added that tidal energy has the potential to produce 5% of the UK’s electricity consumption, while Deep Green could provide a step change reduction in the cost of tidal energy.