Proteus – designed to work equally well in ebb and flow currents – is currently in the final stages of construction by Wear Dock and Engineering in Sunderland, UK. The unit consists of a steel hull, vertically mounted turbine, and buoyancy chambers.

Created specifically for estuarine sites, NREL believes that the Proteus offers a number of practical advantages including: the proximity of the generating capacity to the grid or distribution supply points; the fact that it can be moored in relatively sheltered locations means that waves are not impacting on the structure – with the potential for damage – and being close to land simplifies the installation and maintenance process.

Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd selected the Humber Estuary for the first deployment of Proteus as, given its depth and tidal flow, it is considered one of the best locations in the British Isles for tidal stream power. Once in situ the advanced Neptune Proteus NP1000 should generate at least 1000 MWh/year.

“The deployment of the Proteus Demonstrator is undoubtedly a major landmark and will serve as a key platform for the company’s ongoing success,” said Nigel Petrie, Chairman, NREL. “This is very much the culmination of a long-term research and development programme; in fact the demonstrator will be commissioned almost three years to the day after the first 10th and 40th scale models of the Proteus were tested by the University of Hull.”

Upon completion of the demonstrator trials, the company aims to have the world’sfirst tidal stream power array, consisting of advanced Proteus designs, up and running close to The Deep in the Humber during 2011-12.