Innovation Fund
  • Completed project

Energy from tidal currents - Kick-starting a new marine industry with huge potential

We investigated whether generating electricity from the strong tidal currents within Cook Strait is viable for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Project Leader Duration Budget
Brett Beamsley (MetOcean Solutions) November 2017 – June 2019 $300,000



Cook Strait is potentially one of the best sites in the world for generating power from tidal currents.Tidal currents are a highly predictable renewable energy source. Our research explored how many tidal turbines would be enough to generate energy to power a major city like Auckland (about 1000 megawatts).  

One major barrier to industry investment in tidal current energy is lack of knowledge about the scale of investment required. We used computer models to estimate power output from tidal flows within Cook Strait and determined the best locations within the Strait and the size required for a tidal turbine farm that could generate 1000 megawatts of electricity. We have also developed novel tools and methods to make it possible to rapidly estimate the power output from tidal energy.  

Another potential barrier to development is whether tidal turbine farms will affect the natural tidal flows, so we also analysed their impact on tidal flows.  

Our research aimed to provide the tools and quantitative data to stimulate industry investment and kick-start a new sector of the marine economy. 

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