HAMMERFEST IN NORWAY, ONE of the world’s most northerly towns, will soon be getting its electricity from a sub-sea power station run on tidal currents. The turbine, built on the seabed near Kvalsund at the Arctic tip of Norway, will use tidal currents to turn its turbine blades.

Tidal power has previously been used in power plants in France, Canada and Russia, to generate electricity by building barrages to trap water in artificial lagoons at high tide, and releasing the impounded water when the tide goes out.

The technology used by the Norweigian plant is different as it does not depend on the impounding of water.

This first installation of the Norwegian sub sea turbine as installed will have a capacity of only 300kW and would be expanded after 2004. The turbines are designed to be maintenance-free for three years, but divers can go down if needed.

The project has so far cost US$6.8M and will cost US$13.7M by completion in 2004.