Uncle Bobs Tips: Generator Guide

Sea Energy - Marine Generators

Marine generators supply electricity to recreational boaters, yacht builders and even the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy.

The most popular way to have power onboard a ship is with a marine generator. Marine generators supply electricity to recreational boaters, yacht builders and even the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy. Most marine generators use petrol, diesel, or LPG and most generator manufacturers offer a range of marine generators with output between 750 watts and 2700 watts. Marine generators need extra toughness required to withstand salt, humidity, use in the water, and more. When choosing a marine generator, one should also keep in mind noise, space and weight considerations. Special features of marine generators include uniquely low noise, low vibration, compact and light weight, allowing them to be incorporated into a cabin where they can run continually without distracting or disturbing the occupants. Some models include sound shields which enclose the marine generator set for maximum silencing, while providing proper ventilation and protection from salt spray.

In recent years, Low CO Emission Marine Generators have become the preferred choice, introducing a new technology seeking a more environmentally friendly gasoline marine generator. Carbon monoxide has been a known hazard on boats for decades, particularly inside cabins on boats with gasoline-powered generators. Deaths on houseboats that had formerly been attributed to drowning have now been discovered to in fact be carbon monoxide poisonings of adults and children who were swimming into an air cavity filled with generator exhaust. Work on new engine designs for marine generators to reduce the CO hazard are moving ahead at a fast pace, prompted in part by pending new federal environmental regulations.

The greatest modern innovations in marine generator technology, however, involve using marine current turbines that exploit wave and tidal currents for large-scale power generation; or in other words, utilize "the tide of renewable energy". In the face of global climate changes and environmental concerns, the world is urgently seeking new energy resources with the ability to deliver clean, renewable energy. In addition, the scope for meeting future, growing energy requirements solely from land-based resources will likely be constrained, and renewable energy projects will need to move away from crowded land areas, preferably out to sea. This newest form of marine generator can significantly contribute to this need as it can deliver energy as predictably as the tides that drive it, with minimal risk to the local environment.

Although the relentless energy of marine currents has been obvious from the earliest days of seafaring, it is only with the development of modern offshore engineering capabilities, coinciding with the need to find large new renewable energy resources, that harnessing this resource has become a technically feasible and economically viable possibility. Marine current turbines work, in principle, much like submerged windmills, only driven by flowing water rather than air. These modern marine generators can be installed in the sea at spots with high tidal current velocities, or in a few places with fast enough continuous ocean currents, to take out energy from these huge volumes of flowing water. These flows have the major advantage of being an energy source that is mostly as predictable as the tides that cause them, unlike wind or wave energy which respond to the more random quirks of the weather system.

The technology consists of twin axial flow rotors of 15m to 20m in diameter, each driving a generator via a gearbox much like a hydroelectric turbine or a wind turbine. The twin power units of each system are mounted on wing-like extensions either side of a tubular steel monopile some 3m in diameter, which is set into a hole drilled into the seabed. The rotors turn slowly (10 to 20 rpm) (a ship's propeller, by comparison, typically runs 10 times as fast) ensuring speeds low enough to enable marine wild life to avoid being harmed.

Marine current turbines are shaping the new face of the marine energy industry. With the development of test standardisation, certification, and training, they are sure to become the "wave of the future", giving YOU the power to be at home on the water.

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