Life cycle assessment of the Seagen marine current turbine

C. A. Douglas, Gareth Harrison, John Chick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The world's first commercial‐scale grid‐connected tidal current energy installation will feature the Seagen marine current turbine developed by Marine Current Turbines Ltd. With potential for the manufacture of significant numbers of such devices there is a need to assess their environmental impact and, in particular, their life cycle energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) performance. This paper presents an analysis of the life cycle energy use and CO2 emissions associated with the first generation of Seagen turbines. The detailed assessment covers the embodied energy and CO2 in the materials and manufacturing of components, device installation, and operation along with those for decommissioning. With relatively conservative assumptions, and despite the early stage of development, the study shows that at 214 kJ/kWh and 15 g CO2/kWh, the respective energy and carbon intensities are comparable with large wind turbines and very low relative to the 400 to 1000 g CO2/kWh typical of fossil‐fuelled generation. The energy payback period is approximately 14 months and the CO2 payback is around 8 months. The embodied energy and carbon show limited sensitivity to assumptions with environmental performance remains excellent even under the most adverse scenarios considered. Materials use is identified as the primary contributors to embodied energy and carbon with shipping also significant. Improvements in the environmental impact of the Seagen can be achieved primarily by increased structural efficiency and the use of alternative installation methods to increase recovery of steel at decommissioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part M: Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • life cycle analysis
  • marine currents
  • tidal energy
  • tidal stream


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