A 1 MW sub-surface sea current turbine is to be installed in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough after approval was granted by the Environment & Heritage Service in Northern Ireland.

The SeaGen project, developed by Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines, is due to be installed during 2006.

The five-year pre-commercial pilot project follows sea trials of the 300 kW SeaFlow system that has been running off the north Devon coast for the past two and a half years. Strangford Lough has one of the strongest tidal currents in the UK and Ireland.

The project is being supported by a £4.75 million ($8.3 million) grant from the UK’s DTI while EDF Energy recently announced that it has increased its investment in Marine Current Turbines by £2 million ($3.5 million) in ordefr to back the commercial development of the SeaGen tidal current device. The partnership will see electricity generated from the power of tidal currents fed into people’s homes for the first time.

In a statement EDF Energy said that it is keen to develop the new technology to gauge its potential future commercial application as a tidal farm with up to 30 turbines.