Minesto, a leading player in ocean energy development, has achieved a major milestone by successfully implementing its Launch and Recovery (LARS) method for the Dragon 12 tidal power plant, an innovative large-scale plant with a capacity of 1.2 MW and a weight of 25 tons. This milestone demonstrates the effectiveness of the method, which was initially developed for the (smaller) Dragon 4.
Commissioning of the LARS system for the Dragon 12 has been successfully completed and despite notable differences in size and weight with the Dragon 4, the launch and recovery method did not require substantial changes. The Dragon 12, being ten times heavier and larger, proved to be completely manageable with the existing LARS method , thus validating the technique and the anticipated operating costs.
The Dragon 12 tidal power plant
Minesto’s patented technology is based on a similar principle to flying a kite in the wind, but in this case, underwater. Taking advantage of the hydrodynamic lift generated by underwater currents, the kite moves autonomously in a predefined trajectory, increasing the speed of the water flow several times more than the actual speed of the current. This drives a turbine connected directly to a generator, generating electricity that is transmitted to the grid.
This technology has successfully gone through verifications since its first generation in 2019 and has demonstrated its ability to connect to the network from 2020. With the introduction of the Dragon Class in 2022, the company has established a Power Purchase Agreement and validated its Operation, Service and Maintenance concept. The unique ability of the “underwater kite” to increase the relative velocity of the water through the turbine results in significantly greater electricity production compared to stationary turbines.
The centerpiece of this tidal power plant is a wing that houses a turbine connected directly to a generator inside a nacelle. A control system, using rudders and elevators, guides the kite along a predetermined path. Connection to the marine base is made through a simple connector at the end of the cable, simplifying both installation and recovery.
This advance by Minesto not only represents progress in the field of renewable energy , but also opens new perspectives for the sustainable exploitation of ocean resources, taking energy generation to an unprecedented level.
How does a tidal power plant work?
A tidal power plant is a site intended to convert the energy generated by the sea tides into electrical energy. For its use, dams with turbines at the bottom are erected, generally located in river estuaries or bays. The reservoir formed by the construction of the dam fills and empties with each change of tide, and the resulting flow activates turbines that produce electricity.
Tidal energy, also known as ocean or marine energy, is obtained from the movements of the tides. The energy generated by the rise and fall of the tides is used by turbines that, when activated, set the alternator mechanism in motion, thus generating electricity.
This type of energy is renewable and environmentally friendly, since it does not require the consumption of fossil resources nor does it emit gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect. A significant advantage is its ability to be generated at any time of the year, and by knowing the tidal schedules, the design of the systems can be adapted to maximize their efficiency. In addition, the facilities are silent and easy to maintain. It is even possible to regulate electricity production by adjusting the intensity of the turbines.
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