Home Energy Harnessing the Ocean’s Power with an Underwater Kite

Harnessing the Ocean’s Power with an Underwater Kite

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Harnessing the Ocean's Power with an Underwater Kite

Experiencing the challenge of flying a kite on a breezy day gives a glimpse into the power of nature’s forces. Drawing inspiration from this, a forward-thinking company has applied the concept beneath the waves, creating an innovative tidal energy system resembling a kite. This apparatus harnesses the sea’s tidal movements and underwater currents to generate power. While many attempts have been made to utilize this form of renewable energy, only a select few have reached commercial viability. The underwater kite, recently launched in the Faroe Islands, stands out as a significant achievement in this domain.

Generating power from the sea with a tidal kite

Designed by a Swedish firm, this contraption more closely resembles an underwater plane than a traditional kite. Despite its hefty twenty-eight-ton weight and twelve-meter wingspan, the “Dragon 12” earns its kite moniker through its sea-floor anchorage via a lengthy tether. This tidal kite is equipped with a main wing, rudder, lifting propellers, a gear system, a turbine, and an electric generator. But what’s the process for converting sea movements into energy?

Initially mentioned, the kite’s operation mimics the aerodynamics of kite flying. It utilizes hydrodynamic lift from the sea’s current to navigate in a controlled figure-eight path. This movement drags the turbine through the water at speeds multiple times faster than the current itself, similar to how a kite gains speed by moving laterally. The turbine powers a generator, which feeds electricity to the grid through a cable. An integrated autonomous control system ensures the kite’s operation under various conditions without human intervention.

Strategically placed in a channel between two Faroe Islands, the kite taps into tidal undercurrents to drive a central turbine, generating up to 1.2 MWh—enough to sustain around 1,000 homes with clean energy. One of the project’s highlighted benefits is its continuous energy production, thanks to the predictable nature of tides. The developers also point out that, compared to other tidal energy endeavors, this system is more cost-effective due to its minimal infrastructural demands.

What is ocean energy and what types are there?

Ocean energy presents a valuable renewable resource, accessible through kinetic, thermal, or molecular approaches. Here’s a brief overview of the primary oceanic energy types and their potential to enhance the renewable energy landscape:

  • Tidal energy: Capitalizes on tidal movements to drive turbines for electricity generation. It’s a dependable source, though its applicability is somewhat geographically restricted.
  • Wave energy: Harnesses wave motion to generate power, boasting significant potential due to the ocean’s perpetual dynamics.
  • Ocean thermal energy: Known as OTEC, this method leverages the temperature disparity between surface waters and the cold depths, suited especially for tropical areas.
  • Saline energy: Investigates electricity generation from the salinity gradient between seawater and river water, currently under exploration.

While not classified under the same category, offshore wind energy emerges as the most effective solution thus far. For those keen on exploring further into renewable and sustainable energy sources, subscribing to our newsletter will provide you with all the necessary updates and insights.




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