There’s a lot of energy in the world’s oceans, and Siemens wants to play a big part in developing that power for our use....

There’s a lot of energy in the world’s oceans, and Siemens wants to play a big part in developing that power for our use.

The Germany-based technology giant announced today that it’s taken on a larger stake in a British marine-energy company, Marine Current Turbines Ltd. Siemens first dipped its toe into the marine current tidal energy sector in February of 2010, when it acquired a minor stake in the company. It now has a 45-percent stake.

“With this increase in its stake, Siemens is strengthening its activities in ocean power generation,” said Michael Axmann, CFO of the newly founded Solar & Hydro Division within Siemens’ Energy Sector. “We will actively shape the commercialization process of innovative marine current power plants.”

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Some estimates say tidal power plants deployed around the world could generate up to 800 terawatt-hours of clean energy each year. That’s enough to meet 3 to 4 percent of the world’s energy needs, and 25 percent more than all the energy used in Germany.

Marine Current Turbines plans to present two project investment prospectuses to the market in November: one for the 8 megawatt (MW) Kyle Rhea project in Scotland and another for the 10MW Anglesey Skerries project in Wales. The company also has lease approval to deploy a 100MW tidal farm off Brough Ness on the southernmost tip of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

“We are about to approach investors to secure funding for our first two tidal array projects, and Siemens’ increased investment as well as UK government support should give investors the confidence that we have the necessary backing and support to deliver these crucial projects and the ones to follow,” said Andrew Tyler, CEO of Marine Current Turbines.

The company has already demonstrated its first commercial-scale project, SeaGen in Northern Ireland. Since November 2008, two turbines with a combined capacity of 1.2MW have been plugged into the grid and providing enough power to supply about 1,500 homes. With more than 2.7 gigawatt-hours of electricity generated so far, SeaGen is so far the top electricity producer in the marine current power sector.

Marine current turbines generate electricity by grabbing energy from tidal current flows, much in the way wind turbines do with air flow. However, marine current energy has at least two advantages over wind: water’s much higher energy density (800 times that of wind) and the predictability of the tidal cycle.