The Global View

A different kind of Norwegian wood … for tidal-energy turbines

It’s an ironic reality that, to develop renewable energy, you must use at least some non-renewable resources … things like steel and rare-earth metals. But a tidal power company in Norway is hoping to make its technologies a little less ironic.

Hydra Tidal plans to forgo the steel and composite metals typically used in marine-energy turbines and will test a design made with laminated pine when it installs its 1.5-megawatt prototype tidal energy plant in northern Norway. With a diameter of 23 metres, the turbine wings will be part of a floating, but mostly underwater, installation that’s moored to the seabed.

“Wood is a porous, homogenous material — so it has better mechanical and hydrological characteristics than today’s conventional materials such as composites and steel,” said Svein D. Henriksen, Hydra Tidal’s founder and director of research and development. “The major challenge is the actual assembly process, but we believe we have found a good solution.”

Henriksen added that building tidal turbines from wood is also environmentally responsible.

The prototype project, being funded by the Research Council of Norway, is expected to be ready for testing this June.