$940,000 for Otago tidal power research

University of Otago senior lecturer Dr Ross Vennell celebrates winning a $940,000 Marsden Fund...
University of Otago senior lecturer Dr Ross Vennell celebrates winning a $940,000 Marsden Fund grant for research into tidal turbine farms yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A University of Otago academic celebrated his $940,000 grant for research into tidal turbine farms with fish and chips last night.

Marine science senior lecturer Dr Ross Vennell, of Roslyn, said he was "shocked" when he heard his was one of the 86 research projects in New Zealand receiving a share of the $54.6 million in Marsden Fund grants.

The grant meant he could employ someone to help develop computer models of tidal turbine farms and determine the relationship between power production and farm size, he said.

The three-year grant would continue research, in collaboration with Stanford University in San Francisco, into how much power could be generated by channels, like Cook Strait, he said.

Cook Strait could become the best place in the world for a tidal turbine farm because of the potential to exploit its extremely strong currents.

Tidal turbine research was at the same point as wind turbine research was 20 years ago.

A single renewable energy source could not generate enough power for New Zealand, but tidal turbine farms had huge potential and were a more predictable renewable energy source than wind, he said.

Deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise, Prof Richard Blaikie said it was the eighth successive year Otago researchers had gained the largest share of the Marsden Fund, receiving nearly $15.1 million.

Otago had the highest success rate of any university in New Zealand, with 22 of the 190 preliminary proposals receiving funding.

Marsden Fund recipients in Otago
Full list of Marsden Fund recipients in Otago (funding over three years). -

Dr Ross Vennell (marine science) $940,000; Dr Greg Anderson (anatomy), $975,000; Dr Nancy Beavan (anatomy), $720,000; Prof David Bilkey (psychology), $800,000; Prof Richard Blaikie (physics), $910,000; Dr Peter Blakie (physics), $940,000; Dr Lynette Brownfield (biochemistry), $345,000; Dr Anita Dunbier (biochemistry), $345,000; Associate Prof Claire Freeman (geography) and Dr Yolanda van Heezik (zoology) $430,000; Prof David Grattan (anatomy), $975,000; Dr Jorg Hennig (mathematics & statistics) $345,000; Prof Allan Herbison and Dr Stephanie Constantin (physiology)  $975,000; Dr Martin Krkosek (zoology) $345,000; Dr Jevon Longdell (physics), $930,000; Dr Richard Macknight (biochemistry), $910,000; Prof Alison Mercer and Dr Elodie Urlacher (visiting research fellow zoology), $910,000; Prof Stephen Robertson (women's & child health) $975,000; Dr Patrice Rosengrave (anatomy) $345,000; Prof Steven Stillman (economics), $800,000; Dr Robert Thompson (mathematics & statistics), $345,000; Prof Evelyn Tribble (English) $485,000; Dr Zach Weber (philosophy), $345,000.

- Shawn McAvinue.


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