With the hunt for new ways of producing electricity growing ever more intense, and the recent tragedy in Japan raising doubts about nuclear power, the world's oceans may provide a viable clean-energy alternative.
And a Swedish company has been attracting plenty of attention with its award-winning “underwater kite” solution for generating power from beneath the ocean waves.
Minesto, based in Frölunda outside Gothenburg, has developed a form of underwater kite, which harnesses energy from ocean tides and currents at a far more efficient rate than wind turbines above the surface.
The technology, called Deep Green, looks like a child’s small kite with a turbine on its back.
It is tethered to the seabed and “flies” in a circular motion converting tidal currents into energy. As seawater is 800 times denser than air, the turbine can generate 800 times more energy than if it were in the sky.
The kite can travel 10 times faster than the flow of water it operates in, and because of the relationship between speed and energy, the faster the kite travels, the more efficiently it creates energy.
For example, if the kite moves as 10 times its normal speed, the increase in energy production will be 1,000-fold.
As sea currents and the flow of energy from this source are so stable and predictable, the company claims that it can generate 500 kilowatts of power even in calm conditions.
“We are confident once successful trials have been carried out for it to be commercially operative by 2013,” Minesto CEO Anders Jansson explains.