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Cheaper monitoring of tidal energy generators

The 'TidalSense' system detects, using ultrasonic sensors, failures in tidal energy generators. The new technology, still in the experimental stage, significantly reduces the risk and cost that the maintenance of this kind of machinery currently entails. The research project has been funded by the EU.


Researchers from the TidalSense Demo project are testing the feasibility of a new technology. The proposed energy solution would help detect breakdowns in devices capturing energy from moving water such as conventional tidal turbines or a submerged sail.

The new technology uses long range ultrasonic sensors to monitor the proper functioning of tidal energy conversion machines in real life conditions.

Tidal power devices, as their name suggests, are located in the sea, which makes their maintenance risky and expensive. Moreover, “there is no standard condition monitoring technique available that can provide details of the tidal blade integrity,” says project coordinator, Dr Avdelidis. “The industry currently takes action usually after a critical failure occurs, which can lead to serious and costly repairs,” he adds.

The developed system would represent a cost-effective solution for the industry thanks to its capacity to identify defects in the generator and anticipate major breakdowns.

According to estimates, the system could lead to €66m savings and €36m profits for SMEs and utility companies in the field, across Europe.

Final results are expected to prove the ‘bright’ commercial prospective for this novel equipment.

Project’s website

Factsheet by the European Commission / 30 October 2013