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07 Feb 2011 11:02:58

Tidal harvester to stop floods

The UK Broads Authority's Sustainable Development Fund is backing Lowestoft research and development business 4NRG to accelerate development on its prototype tidal energy harvester. 4NRG believes it could be on the market in three to four years.

The harvester would be built into a flood barrier with an integrated shutter system which could be constructed across the River Yare at Great Yarmouth. The Broads Authority is supporting the research with a £7,500 grant from its Sustainable Development Fund. EEDA (the East of England Development Agency) has given £92,000 towards the prototype, which is being built by shipbuilders Small & Co of Lowestoft.

Mark Aspinall, director of 4NRG, said: "This would be an opportunity to create tidal defences which would benefit the whole of the Broads". Aspinall also said that the barriers would help pay for themselves with revenues gained from generating electricity into the national grid. "They would generate a reliable supply of renewable energy in almost any weather and at times of a very high or surge tide the shutters would close to serve as a flood defence," he said.

4NRG aims to market its 35m tidal harvesters for use around wind farms in the North Sea linked in to the National Grid network. It is also investigating ways to protect the coastline with a series of linked near shore energy devices which absorb energy from the waves and tides thus allowing sandbanks to build up behind which would slow coastal erosion, according to a BYM Marine & Maritime News report.

The report said that it aims to win the Environment Agency's support and secure further funding.

4NRG has been selected as finalists in the EEEGr (East of England Energy Group) Innovation Awards to be announced on Feb 23.

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