Siemens has acquired the majority stake in Marine Current Turbines Ltd, the UK company based in Bristol, which develops and builds tidal power systems. “The acquisition of Marine Current Turbines is an important step forward for the Solar & Hydro division,” said Ted Scheidegger, the division’s CEO . “We will continue to drive the commercialisation of this promising technology which harvests energy from highly predictable tidal streams. Our target is to secure a leading position in this future business.” As a pioneering company, Marine Current Turbines has become a technology leader in tidal power systems. Back in November 2011, Siemens increased its stake in the company to 45 percent. Siemens is now planning to complete the acquisition of Marine Current Turbines in the coming few weeks. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Global carbon reduction commitments are increasing demand for reliable marine current power. Experts are expecting double-digit annual growth rates for this sector up to 2020. The worldwide potential for power generated by tidal power plants is estimated at 800 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually, which is approximately 25 percent more than the total power demand of Germany and is equivalent to between three and four percent of global power consumption. Coastal regions with strong tidal currents like those in the UK, Canada, France and East Asia offer major potential for the utilization of this technology.

Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has already successfully implemented a commercial-scale demonstration project with SeaGen in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Since November 2008, two axial turbines with a combined capacity of 1.2 MW have been providing power to the grid. SeaGen has to date fed more than 3GWh of electricity into the grid. In terms of power generation this is the largest tidal current power project to date. Further projects are at the planning stage, including the 8 MW Kyle Rhea project in Scotland and the 10 MW Anglesey Skerries project in Wales. “Siemens’ acquisition is hugely welcomed by staff and management at MCT and signals great confidence in MCT’s achievements over many years,” said Andrew Tyler, CEO of MCT.

Tidal turbines generate electricity by utilising tidal current flows. The SeaGen turbine is fixed on a structure and is driven by the flow of the tides. This technology is similar to that of a wind turbine, with the rotor blades driven not by wind power but by tidal currents. Water has an energy density that is 800 times higher than that of wind. Twin rotors turn with the tidal current and optimally track the direction and speed of flow thanks to blades which can rotate through 180 degrees.