Working in the Faroe Islands and Taiwan, as well as North Wales, Northern Ireland, France, and Florida, Minesto’s Deep Green technology is developing to act as a stand-alone tidal and ocean current energy converter for off-grid applications. It is based on Minesto’s patented concept of flying an underwater kite, that when steered in an eight-shaped trajectory, generates a speed several times the speed of the actual current. By doing so, the Deep Green technology enables a cost-efficient way to offer clean, predictable electricity generation to island communities and other remote users.
Without technologies like these, island energy is often expensive, inefficient, and dependent on external resources, while also harmful to the environment and competitiveness of businesses. Existing renewable alternatives are often unsuitable for these communities, such as wind and solar power, as the energy they generate is unpredictable and intermittent, making it difficult to rely on. Conventional tidal energy technology is also often unsuitable, as it requires strong tidal flows (over 2.5m/s) which only occur in a few specific hot spots around the world.
With Minesto’s Deep Green technology, these obstacles are overcome through unique design, generating high-speed flows that can be converted into a reliable and renewable source of energy for island communities.
Islands, surrounded by strong ocean currents, often lack the technology to utilize these high-energy power sources. Tidal technology that converts current and tidal energy into power generation remains expensive and inconsistent, with high production costs and unpredictable outputs due to weather conditions. Without innovative technologies, this major source of energy continues to go underutilized in islands around the world.
Minesto’s Deep Green technology is a revolutionary way of converting tidal power into reliable energy sources for island communities. Other tidal power technologies are not able to utilise the vast global resource of low-flow streams, whereas Minesto’s technology unlocks this power source by moving back and forth under the water, speeding up the tide.
Tides are one of the most consistent and predictable sources of renewable energy. Generated by the gravitational forces between earth, moon, and sun, relative motion creates tidal currents that contain a steady and strong source of energy that can be predicted with complete accuracy. Tidal resources are energy rich; moving water is 832 times denser than moving air, which creates conditions for efficient energy conversion.
However, many technologies have not been able to successfully commercialize due to high costs of development and maintenance. Unlike other technologies utilizing tidal power, the Deep Green technology is low flow, low weight, and low cost. Deep Green generates electricity from low-flow tidal streams and ocean currents by a unique and patented principle similar to a flying a kite. Through the interaction between the wing system and tidal flow, the power plant is propelled through the water in a figure eight pattern, rotating the turbine and generation electrical power for the generator. The power is then transmitted to shore via the subsea cable.
Due to its ability to unlock low-flow sites at greater depths than other technologies, the expansion potential for Minesto’s technology in European waters is estimated to some 40GW installed capacity. Looking globally, the analysis shows an exploitable potential of tidal streams and ocean currents in the excess of 600GW installed capacity. This would bring enormous energy potential to the communities it serves; in Taiwan, for instance, estimates have been made that 1 percent of the Kuroshio current would equal half of the country’s electricity consumption.
In mid-February, Minesto announced it is advancing its partnership with the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SEV, which is a significant milestone in our corporation. The PPA comprises both the planned installations of two 100kW systems of Minesto’s subsea kite technology and an additional 2MW capacity allocated for installations of utility-scale tidal energy systems in the Faroe Islands. Minesto is also planning to install and operate two DG100 systems in the Vestmannasund strait and supply the Faroese grid with predictable, clean tidal energy electricity in 2020.
Building upon the scalability of their technology, Minesto is able to create a product range that can cater to various energy user needs. For instance, the long-term ambition of the Faroe Islands project is a commercial array setup of Deep Green power plants to establish a large-scale build out of tidal energy as part of the Faroese energy mix.
Backed by a €14.9 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund, Minesto is now engaging in the next phase of development of the Holyhead Deep project. This includes expanded manufacturing and assembling capabilities, installation of an additional 1MW kite system, and site development towards a commercial tidal energy farm of 80MW installed capacity that could generate clean, reliable electricity for the equivalent of some 70,000 Welsh households.
Aside to the Faroe Islands, Minesto’s Deep Green technology has also been deployed in Holyhead Deep off North Wales, where they installed and commissioned their first commercial-scale, 500kW system in 2018 and 2019. Minesto has also been testing smaller-scale prototypes in the ocean for more some seven years in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, in addition to ongoing projects and activities in France, Taiwan and Florida.
In France, they are collaborating with the energy giant EDF within the scope of a larger EU-funded project aimed at accelerating the commercialisation of tidal stream energy. Within this collaboration the first step is to install and operate a 100kW (DG100) device at a grid-connected site off Brittany operated by EDF.
In Taiwan, Minesto is carrying out site development with the purpose to establish the first tidal energy arrays with Minesto’s technology in Asia – and to demonstrate renewable baseload generation from the continuously-flowing Kuroshio current. Minesto has been active in Taiwan since November 2016 when the company formed a collaboration with the Research Center for Ocean Energy and Strategies at National Taiwan Ocean University, to explore the potential for Minesto’s Deep Green technology in Taiwan.
In Florida, Minesto is collaborating with the Florida Atlantic University to explore a first-of-its-kind ocean energy installation in the Gulf Stream, which could provide renewable baseload off the US East coast.
The perceived high cost of energy is a significant barrier to widespread adoption of marine energy technologies collectively. This perception in turn can influence investments in marine energy technologies.
Additionally, various political systems strongly affects the energy industry and the potential for successful commercialisation of renewable energy. There is a large variation in terms of political ambitions across countries, regions, and islands. However, many governments have come to realise their responsibility in driving the transition of the energy system and they are dedicated to tackling the three dimensions of the energy dilemma: reduce carbon dioxide emissions, decrease cost of energy, and increase security of energy supply.
Minesto is working on all fronts towards proving the Deep Green technology to be a robust and commercially viable electricity production asset. One key focus for Minesto is partnership with global energy companies. With their project in the Faroe Islands, Minesto is hoping to create great impact on the buildout of electricity generation and storage capacity with their Deep Green technology over the next decade, as the Faroe Islands advance towards their vision of a 100 percent renewable energy system by 2030.
Further work in Taiwan and Florida aims to utilise continuous ocean currents to supply baseload to the local grid. Minesto’s collaboration with the UN agency UNOPS, focusing on electricity supply to exposed island nations, is creating promising conditions to kick-start Microgrid projects, as well as opening doors for new partnerships with global energy companies. This would further the goals of both climate resilience and circular economy in these island communities.
Minesto aims to initiate more customer collaborations and installation projects, preferably within the frameworks for the vast availability of public financing which is being launched from 2020 onwards, focusing on renewable energy and innovation linked to the marine environment.