Electricity from the sea

Posted By on February 15, 2006

Underwater TurbineBelco Holdings Limited announced that it has entered into a contract with Current to Current Bermuda Limited, a subsidiary of the U.S. firm Current to Current Corporation based in Massachusetts, to purchase electical power generated by underwater currents. Power should be available by the end of 2007 through a generator and turbine sunk in the sea off Bermuda. This will be the first commercial venture of its size to displace a portion of the islands electrical energy needs.

Yesterday Belco executives revealed how they intend to capture ocean currents and that they initially plan on generating nearly ten per cent of the Island’s electricity needs. The agreement is a 20-year deal and is a fully submersible ocean power system. This is a radical step in generating clean electrical power. The planning has yet to be completed and final permissions and site location will be needed from government of Bermuda, although the Belco president and chief executive officer Garry Madeiros said he was confident the plans would get the green light According to Belco executives, if this pilot generator is successful, further underwater units could be sunk to meet more of Bermuda’s electricity needs.

The underwater generator is 150ft long and contains a four-blade turbine inside. Mr. Madeiros was quoted at saying that this deep sea electric generating system is “mind-boggling,” and that “This is cutting edge technology, not used anywhere else. One can’t help but get excited by this technology.”

Bermuda has taxed its current fossil fuel electrically generation system many times, experiencing a blackout in July of 2005. As the price of fuel rises, so does the cost of Island electricity and reliance on one single energy source. This techology “theoretically” could change that dependency over night.

Bermuda was chosen as the first country to pilot test generating power from ocean currents. The generator will be approximately 75 and 200 meters below sea level and will provide power to a substation on land. This will feed straight into the Belco’s power grid. Placing the generator at these depths means that they will not be affected by sea storms or hurricanes. It would also be sited too deep for divers to make contact. Energy experts from Current to Current will now investigate where the strongest currents are relation to several south shore locations and then recommend the best sites to the Bermuda government.

The inventor, Dr. Manfred Kuehnle, has hundreds of patents to his name, including the first optical spy satellite for the US Government and the first readable credit card machine. Dr. Kuehnle created an innovative gearbox in the underwater power unit, allowing it to capture currents to provide large volume electricity production, suitable for commercial use, unlike other ocean current devices. This particular unit will be built in America and barged to Bermuda. Once in place, it can be remotely controlled and monitored by both Current to Current and Belco.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.