For inventor Richard Ayre an idea that was hatched almost 20 years ago, out in Pembrokeshire's St Bride's Bay, is beginning to bear fruit. Tidal Energy Ltd has now constructed its first DeltaStream turbine and excitement about the 'Spirit of the Sea' is growing. In October it picked up Renewable UK's Wales Green Energy Award.
Invented by Richard Ayre, the DeltaStream is a free standing tidal energy device. Today, a 20 metre high structure with a 12 metre turbine stands on the quayside at Pembroke Dock awaiting its launch this month. The generator looks like an oversized propeller supported by part of an oil rig. Like all new things, it's hard to take your eyes off it.
'It's astonishing', says Richard.
I mean I made models in my head but when I saw this thing for the first time it took my breath away. It was monstrous - beautiful.
Installation is simple; the turbine can float into position before it is located on the seabed. It can cope with turbulence, low and high tidal flows and respond to changes in current and sea conditions so it produces maximum power during a whole range of circumstances. The turbine is not tied to locations which have massive tides. Tidal Energy Ltd is getting interest from all over the world.
'IP is important to this project – it's necessary in the hunt for funding,' adds Richard. 'But you have to remember its value when one has a product to sell. As well as constructing turbines ourselves, we want these devices to spread all over the world. They're flexible and can provide cheap, green power in any number of circumstances. Patent licensing will mean that everybody can benefit from the DeltaStream development.'
A tradition of invention
The DeltaStream turbine has been created by a tight-knit team. Pembroke Dock’s Mustang Marine built the turbine in their workshops. The DeltaStream project chimes with a long local traditional of marine invention. The first hybrid steam/sail ships of the line were built in Pembroke Dock. The first ironclads were made here. And it was in Pembroke Dock that the prototype for the great Dreadnaught battleships was constructed. Now a new generation has a chance to contribute to a greener form of marine engineering innovation. Mustang Marine has made a turbine capable of addressing the world’s energy needs. And without further deepening the prints from our ever expanding carbon wellies.
Up to 9 DeltaStream devices, generating enough power for approximately 10,000 homes, are planned 2 miles off St David's Head. From a commercial point of view, tidal energy turbines have 2 great advantages over other sources of power. The resource – tidal flows of water - is infinite and it's predictable. Take a look at any tide-table for any harbour in the UK. Predictions of time and height are available to the last centimetre. Longevity and predictability of supply are essential for efficient green energy production.
In working together, project partners Richard Ayre, Tidal Energy Ltd, Eco 2 Limited, Cranfield University and Mustang Marine have created a third advantage for themselves - a unique, efficient, practical, green, patented, real invention.