Siemens acquired less than 10% of MCT but officials say the company is entering a new market with good future prospects while it expands its environmental portfolio.

MCT wants to deploy a commercial tidal energy farm within two years. It has identified suitable sites with strong tidal currents off the coasts of the UK, Ireland, Canada, France and East Asia. Nine European countries plan to connect green power generation sources to a high-voltage DC underwater energy grid in the North Sea.

Strong potential for tidal energy

“Our seas are a fantastic asset that can generate clean, green and home-grown power that will boost our transition to a low carbon economy,” says Lord Hunt of the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). “I'm pleased that more investors are coming forward to back Marine Current Turbines as they seek to harness the UK's excellent tidal resources.”

“With this investment in an early stage company, we're securing access to an innovative technology in the field of renewables,” explains René Umlauft of the Renewable Energy Division at Siemens Energy. “As one of the technology leaders in ocean power, Marine Current Turbines is a suitable partner for us to enter the promising ocean power market.”

“Siemens' investment in MCT underlines the significant commercial potential that exists for tidal energy across the globe, and enables us to draw upon the company's extensive knowledge and experience in turbine generation technology,” adds Martin Wright of MCT. “Siemens is a company with an outstanding international reputation and will help us develop our technology and deliver tidal energy on a commercial and global basis.”

£8.5m invested in MCT

Following an investment round led by the Carbon Trust last year, this latest funding brings the total investment over the past two months in MCT to £8.5 million. Investors in the first round included Bank Invest, Carbon Trust, EDF Energy and High Tide.

MCT has successfully implemented its first commercial tidal energy demonstrator project in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland, using its SeaGen tidal turbine. Since November 2008, two axial tidal turbines with combined capacity of 1.2 MW have met the energy needs of 1500 homes during 1000 hours of operation.

Wave and tidal energy are crucial

“The UK must urgently diversify, decarbonise and secure its energy sources and marine energy could over time provide up to 20% of the UK's electricity,” says Tom Delay of Carbon Trust. “Generating electricity from the UK's powerful wave and tidal resource not only plays a crucial role in meeting our climate change targets but also presents a significant economic opportunity for the UK.”

MCT was established in 2000 and the 1.2 MW SeaGen tidal turbine converts energy from tidal currents rather than the wind. It plans to deploy a SeaGen tidal system in Canada's Bay of Fundy next year and  has partnered with RWE npower on plans to develop a tidal farm in waters off Anglesey, north Wales.

The Carbon Trust recently announced £22m of new funding for 6 wave and tidal energy companies, including MCT. Its Marine Renewable Proving Fund uses funding from DECC  to develop wave and tidal technologies.