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The University of Southampton

Southampton research will help harness tides to provide the power of the future

Published: 14 March 2002

The development of turbines to generate power as tides ebb and flow will be boosted through a new project which began last month in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and the School of Engineering Science (SES) at the University of Southampton.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have awarded £215,000 over the next three years for the project, led by Dr AbuBakr Bahaj and co-investigators Prof John Chaplin (CEE) and Dr. Tony Molland (SES). The research will focus on turbine blade design and how the blades are affected by the marine environment, and on determining the optimal conditions for successful operation.

"Marine current turbines have many advantages compared to other renewable energy sources such as offshore wind farms," said Dr Bahaj. "Since tides are predictable, the power generated can be planned for and could be used for base load support of the grid. However, we need to know much more about how the technology will work before it will be viable and this project will take us another step towards the optimal turbine design."

Dr Bahaj is Head of the Sustainable Energy Research Group, which has considerable experience in renewable energy studies, particularly research and demonstration of renewable energy technology. This includes the use of solar energy through the photovoltaic effect as a building component and the design of multifunctional facades for energy generation and occupier comfort.

Dr Bahaj initiated research on marine current turbines in 1998, in association with Marine Current Turbines (MCT) Ltd and IT Power Ltd. MCT was formed to develop the commercial technology for exploiting tidal and other marine currents, and their Managing Director, Mr Peter Fraenkel, is a visiting senior research fellow at the university.

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Notes for editors

  1. An artist's impression of a tidal turbine illustrating how it would look above and below the surface is available from Sue Nottingham.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.
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