Siemens Energy has acquired a minority stake in UK company Marine Current Turbines, a pioneer in the design and development of tidal current energy turbines. With the acquisition of a stake of just below 10 % in MCT, which is based in Bristol, England, Siemens is entering a new market with good future prospects and at the same time expanding its environmental portfolio.

“With this investment in an early stage company we’re securing access to an innovative technology in the field of renewables,” said René Umlauft, CEO of the Renewable Energy Division of Siemens Energy. “As one of the technology leaders in ocean power Marine Current Turbines is a suitable partner for us to enter the promising ocean power sector.” Experts anticipate double-digit growth rates for the ocean power market by 2020.

Marine current turbines generate electricity by utilising sub-surface water flows such as tidal currents. In the MCT model the turbine is fixed on a pile and is driven by the flow of the tides. This technology effectively is similar to an underwater wind turbine, except that water has an energy density of more than 800 times that of wind. Twin rotors rotate with the movement of the tidal flow and pitch through 180 degrees to optimally track tidal current direction and speed. The key advantage is that the generated power is predictable in the tidal cycle.

Marine Current Turbines has already successfully implemented its first commercial demonstrator project SeaGen in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Since November 2008, two axial turbines with a combined capacity of 1.2 MW have been feeding power into the grid. SeaGen is therefore currently the world’s most powerful marine current turbine.

Suitable sites are essential for the success of such projects. In particular, coastal regions with strong tidal currents such as those in the UK, Ireland, Canada, France and East Asia, offer major potential for this ecofriendly power generation technology. Tidal power stations are part of the Green Grid (aka Super Grid) plan for the North Sea. Nine European countries are planning to connect renewable power generation sources like wind, tidal or hydro power to a HVDC underwater energy grid in the North Sea.

Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said: “Siemens’ investment in MCT underlines the significant commercial potential that exists for tidal energy across the globe, and enables us to draw upon the company’s extensive knowledge and experience in turbine generation technology. We are delighted to have Siemens on board. Siemens is a company with an outstanding international reputation and will help us develop our technology and deliver tidal energy on a commercial and global basis.”