Generating current from current

September 18, 2003, 14:30 CEST

The powerful current flowing through the Kval Sound outside Hammerfest in northern Norway will start generating electricity this week in the world’s first tidal power station of its kind.

Statoil owns 20 per cent of the Hammerfest Strøm company, which has been responsible for this first plant to generate tidal power for the commercial grid.

Installed on 17 September, the prototype will supply 700,000 kilowatt-hours per year – corresponding to electricity consumption by 35 Norwegian homes.

“The group’s strategy is to become a provider of green power,” explains Hanne Lekva, who heads Statoil’s business development unit for new energy.

“Our involvement in Hammerfest Strøm is an example of how we can apply our expertise to the development of new renewable energy.”

This environment-friendly power supply is achieved by submerging large water turbines which can harness the strong tidal current in the Kval Sound.

Unlike other tidal power stations, therefore, the new facility does not depend on the regular alternation in water height between high and low tide.

The submerged structure weighs 120 tonnes. Its turbine blades have been made in glassfibre-reinforced plastic and measure 10 metres from hub to tip.

Their rotation is converted to electricity via a generator, with the power transmitted to the land station via a submarine cable.

The prototype has been developed by Hammerfest Strøm in collaboration with ABB, Rolls Royce and Sintef as well as Statoil.