The trials are the first stage in plans to locate a tidal energy farm in the Thames that would generate enough electricity to power 35,000 homes.
The scheme will involve siting hundreds of tidal turbines, the largest capable of generating up to 500 kilowatts, along the river from Westminster to Margate.
The project is being developed by THAMES TIDAL, a joint venture involving NAUTRICITY, a tidal technology developer, and ENERGY INVEST GROUP, a global developer and financier of energy projects (EIG).
The project will utilise Nautricity’s innovative Contra-Rotating Marine Turbine (CoRMaT) which the company says offers significant advantages over first generation devices in terms of its stability and suppressed downstream turbulence, which mitigate scouring of river bed and banks.
According to EIG's Tim Peara, the Contra-Rotating Marine Turbine (CoRMaT) is self-stabilising and neutrally buoyant: "Unlike most 1st Generation devices that adapt wind turbines for the sea, the CoRMaT does not require a large support structure to hold it in place, but rather can be tethered on a line between an anchor and a sub-surface buoy. Absent of the weight and complexity of a stabilising structure, this 2nd Generation device shows roughly a 10-fold improvement in its power to weight ratio over 1st Generation turbines, delivering around 18kW/tonne versus 1-2kW/tonne from competing devices. This superior power to weight ratio also significantly reduces the material, fabrication and installation costs of the CoRMaT".
Thames Tidal Ltd plan to allow for over 50MW of generating capacity, about an eighth of the power of the now decommissioned Battersea Power Station which will overlook some of the Thames Tidal array. Tidal turbines are to be deployed in arrays of turbines along the Thames subject to planning consent and availability of sites. The build out of the arrays will be phased over a number of years, reports the company.