Funding for Eel-Based Tidal Energy System

Published Dec 19, 2016 7:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Eel Energy has received 3.7 million euros from the French Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir (PIA - Future Investment Program) for the development of a new generation of tidal power machine that takes inspiration from fishes’ movement.

The funding will enable the development of a 1MW prototype, and it comes after a capital increase of nearly three million euros secured by the company last June.

Jean-Baptiste Drevet, the company’s founder, conceived an undulating membrane tidal device, inspired by the eel swimming. The rubber membrane, equipped with electromagnetic converters, transforms the marine currents into electricity. 

A small prototype was tested in 2011-12 in Boulogne sur Mer, France. The tests conducted since then in the IFREMER water tunnel with several prototypes at 1:20 and then 1:6 scales confirmed the performance of the Eel technology. 

The tidal machine, operating in shallow water and with currents of 0.7 to 2.5 meters per second, lower than alternative technologies, can be installed as close as possible to energy requirements.

Thomas Sennelier, Head of Cleantech at Bpifrance, said: “This innovation, which breaks with conventional tidal turbines, will make it possible to exploit currents with lower velocity, and to extend the exploitation of tidal technologies to new areas. It also illustrates the strong potential of biomimicry as a lever for innovation and competitiveness.”