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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bermuda to tap enrgy from ocean currents with underwater turbines

Hamilton, Bermuda [] In a move anticipated to meet the electricity needs of Bermuda over the next 20 years, the Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO) plans to purchase renewable energy to be generated from its own ocean currents. The agreement, between BELCO and Current to Current Bermuda Ltd., is for up to 20 megawatts (MW) of power, with the first 10 MW scheduled to be available by the end of 2007.

Current to Current Bermuda Ltd., a subsidiary of Current to Current Corp. based in Burlington, Massachusetts, will bring its patented ocean current technology -- a large submersible, similar to a submarine, operating within a cylindrical unit that captures the energy of ocean currents to power generators. It incorporates a gearbox allowing it to provide large volume electricity production, suitable for commercial use, and differentiating it from other ocean current applications. This is to be the first deployment of the Submersible Power Generators (SPG).

The technology was developed in the U.S. by a team of scientists and technologists led by Dr. Manfred Kuehnle, who has registered several hundred inventions, including satellite technology and machine-readable technology for credit cards, stated the release.

"We have looked closely at offshore wind generation. While it is viable, wind provides only intermittent power and would not replace the need for fuel oil based generation to cover the times when wind would not provide adequate supply," said Garry A. Madeiros, BELCO president and chief executive officer. "Conversely, Current to Current's technology has been designed to provide a continuous source of energy that would replace the need for fuel-powered generation."

Although a specific site for placement of the submersible unit has not yet been determined, Helen Manich, Current to Current's chief marketing officer, said it would be located south of the Island.

"The Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BBSR) will be conducting current-flow testing at the end of next month and that information will be used to help determine the best location," Manich said. "The submersible unit will be constructed in the United States and barged to Bermuda. Once it is in place, the unit can be remotely controlled and monitored by the U.S. company, the Bermuda company and BELCO."

"BELCO's planning forecast anticipates that we will need to add generating capacity to our system by 2010," said Madeiros. "The timing of this project is excellent, as it allows us to adjust our plans going forward based on the actual performance and future potential of the Current to Current system."

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