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Deep Dive: How do Minesto’s underwater “flying dragons” produce power?


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Harnessing the power of ocean tides has never been done on a large scale before. Through Minesto’s unique, patented technology, the company has found a way to amplify and utilize the energy in tidal streams, making it a reliable and clean baseload energy source. But how do these underwater flying dragons provide power for our homes and offices? Let’s do a literal and figurative deep dive into the workings of Minesto’s aquatic mobile power plants.
Imagine flying a kite. When the wind blows, you can feel the kite twisting and turning out of control, nearly pulling you off your feet. This is the power that Minesto’s technology harnesses. By mounting kite-like power plants underwater on tethers that steer them in a predetermined figure-of-eight trajectory, the kite can be pulled through currents several times faster than the stream’s actual speed.
The kites are built so that each kite is a power plant in its own right, connected to the seabed through the tether. The kites are moved through the water by tidal currents, and this motion powers a turbine on the back of the kite. The turbine turns a generator which generates electricity to the grid via a power cable that runs through the tether and a seabed umbilical cord connected to the shore.
Each kite is a power plant in its own right, generating power and outputting it to the energy grid through a power cable in the tether.
Each kite is a power plant in its own right, generating power and outputting it to the energy grid through a power cable in the tether.

Tidal energy is a vast, untapped source of renewable power that hasn’t been able to be utilized before. Traditional tidal power plants face the issue of not producing enough energy for the high implementation cost, and engineers worldwide have been working to optimize tidal energy generators for decades.
The secret of the Minesto technology is that the power plant is moving rather than being stationary. To maintain maximum energy generation, an onboard control system turns rudders and elevators on the back of the kite, steering the kite in a figure-of-eight trajectory to increase the speed of the current that it is pulled through.
Since the speed of the stream has a cubic relationship with the power produced, the motion of the “kite” increases energy production exponentially. Having developed this technology since 2007, Minesto is preparing to open its first large-scale underwater power production park in the Faroe Islands. Stay tuned to this profile to learn more about this soon!
If you want to know more about Minesto’s technology, you can read more on the website:

  • Johannes Luiga

    30 w

    Such a great initiative!

    • Heather Hoff

      32 w

      I’m skeptical. Seems like a lot of raw materials needed for a small amount of energy output. I’m all for innovation, but not when we should be innovating more powerful options (like nuclear), but instead refuse to look at it because of political definitions and social popularity of concepts like “renewable”.

      2
      • Kjell Arne Rekaa

        32 w

        @heather_hoff I think this should have better potential than todays modern wind mills. The power in water current is a magniture higer than than for the «same area» than air - which might produce the same amount of energy with a fraction of the same material as used for wind mills. This might reduce the building cost with a huge amount compared to wind mills. The forseable timing for when the current will be there for energy production is also a good thing - compared to the unknows for when the wind will be there (apart from some few days into the furture).

        • Staffan Schartner

          31 w

          @heather_hoff , humanity has to give up the colonialist idea of taking resources inherited from our ancestors, and transforming them into waste for the future to handle. Fission is the evil twin of fossil technology.

        • Markus Lutteman

          32 w

          I love this solution!

          • Ann Nyambura

            32 w

            Scalability is a significant advantage here.

            1
            • Sarah Chabane

              33 w

              Such a fantastic innovation! It's great to learn these details. Where are you implementing this solution at the moment?

              2
              • Munene Mugambi

                33 w

                It's amazing how energy can be harnessed via different methods. Everyday we learn something new

                5
                • zelda ninga

                  33 w

                  We have very many ways of producing energy so if we want to get to 100% renewable it's possible.

                  7
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