Wheels in motion for green energy barge

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A GREEN energy barge, described by its creator as the first of its kind in the world, has been launched on the River Aire in Leeds.

The OblinArk is the brainchild of Brannan Tempest, a Leeds-based engineer, who is looking for investors to back the project, which he said could have a large impact on solving the energy challenges of the future.

The OblinArk is shaped like a canal barge but with a series of water wheels down its middle. The idea is that it can be moored either along the banks or in the middle of rivers where the flow of water allows for the generation of electricity – otherwise known as hydrokinetic energy. The electricity is transported up the anchor lines to a distribution point.

Mr Tempest, who owns Garforth-based structural engineering consultancy Tempest Stansfield, said: “The potential of this is absolutely huge.”

He said the OblinArk, the first full-scale working example of which has just been launched, is “fully scaleable”, adding: “Unlike other green technologies such as wind and solar, the rivers flow all the time so we’re not sat around waiting for the wind and in Britain we’re not sat around for the sun, so it’s 24 hours a day generation.”

Mr Tempest said the system is wildlife-friendly and made from 99 per cent recyclable materials. One OblinArk can provide enough power for 230 homes, he added.

He also said that with the Government’s current feed-in tariffs (FITs) for green energy, the OblinArk makes financial sense. The 90kw version costs just over £500,000 which, at current FITs means it will pay for itself in two-and-a-half years, Mr Tempest said, while its life expectancy is 20 years.

The OblinArk was built in Mansfield by TC Fabrications and Mr Tempest’s business partner Steve Walker played a key role in bringing it to fruition.