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Tidal stream energy: the ‘Sea-Spider’ vertical axis tidal turbine

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Tidal energy has the attraction over wind and wave energy that it is wholly predictable. Tidal stream devices can be located under or near the surface of the sea, minimising visual and environmental impact.

Most of the tidal turbines currently being developed today are axial flow propeller turbines, mounted on structures positioned on the seabed. As the generators and many working parts are submerged, divers, crane barges or lifting structures are needed to raise them to the surface for maintenance, which is costly. Devices have so far been developed up to about 1MW, and the approach being taken to scale up further is to build arrays of turbines.

Sea-Spider is a novel vertical axis tidal turbine developed by Renewergen Ltd. Sea-Spider’s design places all electrical generating plant above the water, allowing easier and safer access, and lower operation and maintenance costs. It is designed to be scaleable to a large size, enabling economic deployment in a wide range of locations.

A nine month research project, partly funded by EEDA and the ERDF , explored the technical and economic feasibility of the concept. This included testing of a working model, development of computer simulations, input from specialist sub-contractors with experience of offshore energy and an independent due diligence review. A patent has been published. Partners are being sought to finance further development of Sea-Spider.

In the first in-depth talk on the project, the speakers will discuss the advantages and challenges of tidal stream energy; the approaches being taken; examples of some devices that have been deployed; the features and advantages Sea-Spider; its development to date and lessons learnt.

The speakers will be Simon Sanderson, the inventor of Sea-Spider; and Charles Lee, who supported the engineering of the project.

Free to attend. All welcome. No need to register.

Refreshments served from 18.30. Talk starts at 19.00. Ends by 21.00 following questions and discussion.

Further information is at

This talk is part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Cambridgeshire Area) series.

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