May 21, 2012

Underwater Turbine Wins Australian Engineering Award

3 min
  Elemental Energy Technologies Ltd has taken out the top honour in the annu...


Elemental Energy Technologies Ltd has taken out the top honour in the annual Engineering Excellence Awards sponsored by the Newcastle Division of Engineers Australia.

In a field of 16 finalists, which included BHP Billiton's $100M plus remediation of the Hunter River and the $1 billion plus Ballina By-Pass project, the SeaUrchin™ secured the Overall Winner GHD Award for Engineering Excellence, the UGL Award for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering and an excellence award.

Other projects assessed by the judging panel included the design of the $120 million Mardi to Mangrove Water Transfer Link, establishment of infrastructure for Xstrata Coal's $1 billion Mangoola Coal Mine in the Hunter Valley and Ampcontrol's design and construction of a road-transportable mobile 132kV substation for use during scheduled network repairs and in case of emergency outages.

EET's Research director and inventor, Michael Urch, said "The success of The SeaUrchin Marine Power Generator can be attributed to contributions by e3K, ATSA and RPC Technologies and Prysmian Cables in Australia, as well as KITL in India. This diverse engineering team joined forces to bring to market a new technology that will assist in the challenge to provide renewable, predictable or baseload energy for the global market."

The SeaUrchin is a revolutionary technology designed to economically capture the vast kinetic energy of the world’s ocean streams, tidal currents and river flows. The SeaUrchin operates in an extensive range of flow rates making it deployable in the largest range of ocean and river locations around the world.


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The SeaUrchin turbine is uniquely adaptable to a number of different generator configurations, with or without a gearbox and, with as few as one moving part, depending upon local conditions or a customer's particular requirements. It harnesses up to four times more power and is up to 70 percent more efficient than the commonly used conventional propeller-based marine turbines.

The SeaUrchin can be mass produced at significantly lower cost than competing products resulting in a lower cost per megawatt-hour of predictable power.

“The commercial viability of the SeaUrchin enables it to rapidly meet the large and growing market for renewable energy technologies,” said the Engineers Australia judges.

Based on original research conducted by Michael Urch and e3k over the last six years, SeaUrchin prototypes have been designed, manufactured and tested by a consortium of engineering organisations based in Newcastle Brisbane and Sydney in Australia and Pune, India.

The Judges went on to say, “the SeaUrchin was a very clever solution requiring excellent collaboration between the inventor, research, design and development team. Its combination of simplicity and sustainability, in conjunction with the increasing demand for reliable renewable energy, will ensure its commercial success".


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Jun 25, 2021

UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC

Dominic Ellis
5 min
The UK must put an end to a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices warns the Climate Change Committee

The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.

While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.

"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."

The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.

  • Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
  • Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
  • Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
  • Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
  • Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.

In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies. 

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”

Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society. 

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."

Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).

Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.

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