Is Tidal Power the Future of Green Energy?

Imagine a structure, 24 times longer than the Hoover Dam, stretching out into the sea. Its 9-kilometer wall curves towards the horizon before returning to rejoin the coast, creating a giant artificial lagoon. Under the water line, a channel fitted with 16 turbines connects the lagoon to the ocean. As the tide goes in and out, the lagoon fills and drains, spinning the turbines to generate more than 530 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity each year—enough to power 155,000 homes.

If this sounds like an engineering challenge too far, it’s not. The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon in South Wales might have taken as little as three years to start generating power if approved. Yet it was never built. The issue? Money. The UK government turned down the £1.3 billion ($1.46 billion) project in 2018 on the grounds that it was too expensive.

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Robot Farmer Operates 20 Hours A Day, Harvesting Tens Of Thousands Of Raspberries

Fieldwork Robotics, a University of Plymouth spin-off company, is developing an autonomous harvesting robot platform. A number of flexible robot arms attached to the platform will be able to pick raspberries, tomatoes, and other crops without crushing them or destroying the plant.

Fieldwork Robotics has completed initial field trials of its robot raspberry harvesting system. The tests took place at a West Sussex farm owned by Fieldwork’s industry partner, leading UK soft-fruit grower Hall Hunter Partnership, which supplies Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose. Data from the trials will be used to refine and improve the prototype system before further field trials are held later this year. If they are successful, manufacturing of a commercial system is expected to begin in 2020.

Fieldwork Robotics was incorporated to develop and commercialise the work of Dr Martin Stoelen, Lecturer in Robotics at the University’s School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics.


Starting the field testing at Hall Hunter Partnership is a major milestone for us, and will give us invaluable feedback to keep developing the system towards commercialisation, as part of our Innovate UK funding. I am very proud of the achievements of the team, at Fieldwork Robotics Ltd and across my different research projects on robotic harvesting here at the University of Plymouth,  says Dr Martin Stoelen,

Farmers around the world are increasingly interested in robot technology to address the long-term structural decline in labourFieldwork is focusing initially on raspberries because they are hard to pick, are more delicate and easily damaged than other soft fruits, and grow on bushes with complex foliage and berry distribution. Once the system is proved to work with raspberries, it can be adapted readily for other soft fruits and vegetables, with the same researchers also developing proof-of-concept robots for other crops following interest from leading agribusinesses.