Ex-windsurfer develops tidal energy technology

A former windsurfing champion and his business partner hope to capture the energy of tides across the UK coastline after winning a £100,000 grant to develop their ‘Sea-Spider’ technology. Simon […]

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By Kelvin Ross

A former windsurfing champion and his business partner hope to capture the energy of tides across the UK coastline after winning a £100,000 grant to develop their ‘Sea-Spider’ technology.

Simon Sanderson, who set a windsurfing speed record in 1989 on a board he designed himself, and David Loughlin set up Renewegen in Norfolk to develop tidal technology.

Now the project has secured £100,000 funding from the East of England Development Agency’s Low Carbon Grants for Research and Development programme.

Mr Loughlin, managing director of Renewegen, said: “We are currently researching an innovative method for generating electricity from tidal movements. In contrast to existing propeller-based technologies, which rely on fast moving water being funnelled through a turbine, the Sea-Spider seeks to take advantage of much larger volumes of moving water.

“As a result, our technology opens up the possibility of utilising large areas of coastal and tidal waters for electricity generation that were previously felt to be unsuitable.”

Mr Loughlin added: “Sea-Spider is designed to be robust, reliable, easy to maintain and has a low environmental impact which presents no threat to marine life. What’s more, it is intended to produce electricity at significantly less cost than offshore wind turbines. In addition, tidal energy is predictable and reliable as tidal movements are guaranteed, whereas the wind is variable and unpredictable.”

Renewegen hopes to build a prototype device next year.

Paul May, executive director of innovation at the East of England Development Agency, said: “EEDA’s grant funding can give businesses developing low carbon technologies the early-stage funding boost they need to get their projects off the ground. They also have a track record of giving up-and-coming businesses the stamp of approval they need to go on and attract further investment.

“EEDA has £2m of grant funding available to support low carbon research and development up to the end of this financial year. But it’s first-come, first-served and applications need to be in and approved by the 31 March.”