Wednesday, November 22, 2006

$402m Tidal Energy Plant For New Zealand

New Zealand’s Northern Advocate reports that a US $402 million (NZ $600m) proposal to generate electricity with 200 tidal-powered turbines submerged at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour could get under way next year. The harbour is one of the largest in the world. It’s a broad shallow harbour covering an area of over three hundred square miles and has more than two thousand miles of shoreline. It has a two and a half mile wide entrance to the Tasman Sea halfway along its length.

Although officially called a harbour, the Kaipara is rarely used for shipping, owing to the treacherous tides and bars at its mouth. For this reason, no large settlements lie close to its shores, although small communities dot its coastline.

Crest Energy has applied to the Northland Regional Council for resource consent to set the 22m-tall turbines on the seafloor along about 8km of the 30m deep main channel at the harbour entrance.

The tidal energy is expected to get the turbines generating 200 megawatts of power - enough for 250,000 homes. The turbines, shielded from fish, would sit on heavy concrete pylons and be at least 5m from the surface at low tide. Leisure craft and barges could pass over them, but would be restricted from anchoring in the turbine area.

Two 30km-long cables 125mm in diameter would feed electricity into the national grid.

Crest Energy claims the size and commercial scale of the Kaipara project would make it the largest of its kind in the world.

If the project gets the green light, possibly around the middle of next year, the company plans to raise about $50 million to begin building turbines.

Komeng Adul

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