Tidal Energy Ltd., a U.K. maker of technology that uses ocean currents to generate electricity, received 1.6 million pounds ($2.5 million) from the Welsh government to test its device at sea.
The company’s shareholders that include ECO2 Ltd. matched the grant with about another 533,000 pounds, Martin Murphy, managing director for Cardiff-based TEL, said by phone. The money will be used for the development of a 400-kilowatt prototype machine that will be tested off Ramsey Sound, west Wales, next year, he said. Once it has been tested the company plans to “up-scale” to a full 1.2-megawatt unit in 2015.
In addition to its demonstration project, TEL is also working on the development of its site at St. David’s Head that was awarded from the Crown Estate. That project will be a 10-megawatt array costing about 40 million pounds, Murphy said. While the marine energy industry has the potential to provide as much as 20 percent of the U.K.’s current electricity demand, no commercial-scale projects are yet working.
As fledgling marine technology companies ramp up the development of their devices from small-scale prototypes to commercial machines, they’re increasingly seeking the backing of industrial companies with larger balance sheets. Siemens AG, Alstom SA, Andritz AG, ABB Ltd. and DCNS SA already have bought stakes in wave and tidal businesses.
“We’re looking next year hopefully to secure new investor interest probably for equity but it’s very early stages at the moment,” Murphy said. Teaming up with a “corporate” partner such would be a “really solid step forward” for TEL, he said. It expects to begin discussions later this year and into 2014.