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Making Waves in Energy: What You Need to Know

Ocean currents are one source of natural energy that no one has tapped on a large scale before – and it might just be the answer to clean and limitless renewable energy.

Most people are familiar with solar or wind power, but what about capturing energy that most people have never seen? Tidal turbines, the “cousin” of windmills, operate under water, spinning with the movement of ocean tides.

While the idea of generating electricity through the tides isn’t a new one, proving it can work on a large scale is a first. 

How Does It Work?


Tidal energy is produced by the surge of ocean water during the rise and fall of tides. Submerged rotors harness the power of the ocean currents to drive generators, which in turn produce electricity.

These large underwater turbines are placed in areas where a significant difference between the low tide and high tide exists—such as the Pentland Firth, the body of water that separates the north Scottish mainland from Stroma Island.

“Tidal flows that we want to tap into move at about 7-10 miles per hour,” explained Tony Pellegrino, research engineering senior manager at Lockheed Martin. “This may seem slow when compared to wind, but considering the fact that water is approximately 800 times more dense than air, there is a lot of energy in those tides.” 


Meet Our enerGENIUS: Tony Pellegrino, Research Engineering Sr. Manager

“It’s a very rewarding experience to feel technically challenged and also find meaning in your work. If you can combine the two you create passion in an individual and passion drives people to achieve great things.  If you enjoy pushing the boundaries of technology and want to change the world, look to take advantage of an opportunity within LM Energy and become an EnerGENIUS!”

Learn more about Tony and our EnerGENIUS team.

Unlike wind or solar power that rely on weather patterns, tidal turbines generate a more predictable supply of power. Therefore, engineers can more precisely calculate the amount of energy these systems can generate.

Better yet, tidal energy is both a renewable and a green energy source with incredible potential.

So why hasn’t tidal energy come about sooner? Developing viable tidal energy systems is a huge engineering challenge.

To be economically feasible, these systems need to be affordable to produce, easy to install on the seabed floor, simple to operate and highly reliable, as underwater maintenance is not a viable option.

With innovations in advanced manufacturing and materials, and experience gained in the design and production of undersea systems and satellites, Lockheed Martin is now helping make tidal energy a reality.  


What's Next?

Lockheed Martin partnered with Singapore-based Atlantis Resources Limited to develop the first-in-class AR1500 Tidal Turbine. This unique system has blades that can tilt and angle to the direction of the tides, and the ability to turn during any schedule of the tidal stream, allowing the turbine to optimize power generation in a tidal stream. 

When fully completed, experts estimate that the MeyGen project will have the potential to provide clean, sustainable, predictable power for 175,000 homes in Scotland, support more than 100 jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and deliver significant, long-term supply chain benefits.