Japanese backing for Sheffield firm's tidal power project

Japanese trading and investment giant Marubeni is backing a Sheffield City region firm's drive to be the first to feed electricity generated from tidal power to the National Grid.

Marubeni has joined other investors who have pledged a total of 580,000 to back Pulse Tidal's plans to install its tidal stream energy generator in the Humber estuary later this year.

A further 1.1 million of Government and European money is also being pumped into the project – thanks to the involvement of green energy technology specialist LIFE-IC, which, like Pulse, is based at the Innovation Technology Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park and is also investing in the project, along with the Yorkshire-based Viking Fund, members of the Viking Club a number of private backers.

Unlike other planned tidal devices, Pulse's generator can operate in shallow estuarial waters where the tides tend to be strongest.

It uses high-performance hydrofoils similar to aeroplane wings, which move up and down like a whale's tail, to generate up to 100kW of electricity - enough power for 70 homes – which will be fed into the Grid through Millennium Inorganic Chemicals' plant.

Once the generator is working, Millennium will become the first UK company to take a direct feed from tidal power.

Pulse Director Howard Nimmo said: "These investments will take us to the stage where we have a fully developed business and a fully functional device that demonstrates our unique technology.

"With Marubeni onboard we have a global partner that can advise and assist us in taking the product forward."

LIFE-IC's chief executive, Philip Johnson, said: "Tidal power has everything we need for our future energy requirements: it is safe, clean, renewable and entirely predictable."

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