Bloomberg News

Durban to Explore Sea-Current Power With Hydro Alternative

May 02, 2012

South Africa’s southeastern coastal city of Durban is considering developing plants to generate electricity from sea-currents together with Hydro Alternative Energy Inc., which says the project would be the first of its kind.

Hydro Alternative plans to develop a $20 million, 1 megawatt demonstration unit that will generate power from the Agulhas Current, which flows past the city. The project is being supported by the Durban Investment Promotion Agency.

“Generating power from from a sea current has never been done before,” Mark Antonucci, co-chief executive officer of the Jupiter, Florida-based company said in a phone interview today. “All previous wave generation technologies have been tidal based.”

South Africa is pushing the use of renewable energy to reduce the country’s reliance on coal. The government has issued tenders for the construction of renewable energy plants with a capacity of 3,725 megawatts by the end of 2016.

Once the unit, which uses the so-called Oceanus technology, has been tested the company can build as many plants as required, each with a generation capacity of 8 megawatts, he said. So far four potential sites have been identified. The plants are submerged about 30 meters (98 feet) below sea level to prevent interference with shipping.

South Africa has previously considered generating electricity from waves. In 2006 it held talks with Edinburgh- based Ocean Power Delivery Ltd. over a 7 billion rand ($903 million) project to develop wave-powered electricity plants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Niki Moore in Durban via Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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