Energy chain above and under water

Plastic e-chain enables maintenance-free operation of OpenHydro tidal turbine in rough seas

This turbine generates green electricity in the North Sea with the help of water flowing in and out. The generator can be moved down 20 metres if necessary, which means that the cables are mostly below the water surface. A conventional metal chain would not work in the aggressive sea conditions. Therefore, the operator relies on one of our plastic energy chains, which ensures maintenance-free operation of the turbine.


  • What was needed: energy chains type E4/4, chainflex motor and signal cables
  • Requirements: in rough seas, the tidal turbine should move reliably and safely over 20 meters of travel. Corrosion and climate pose particular challenges for the cable guidance, which nevertheless had to be as maintenance-free as possible.
  • Industry: offshore, renewable energies
  • Success for the customer: the E4/4 plastic chain eliminates the need for any maintenance on the open sea and was the only solution considered; a conventional metal chain would not have been sufficient for the combination of climate and mechanical requirements.
Tidal turbine


In the North Sea just off the Orkney Islands in Scotland, this tidal turbine with a 6-meter diameter was installed to benefit from the power of the water. The function behind this clever idea is easy to explain: when water flows through the turbine and out again - due to high and low tide - the 16 rotor blades of the power plant start to turn. This is how green electricity is produced in a natural way. The fact that the system is sophisticated is also evident in the built-in traversing mechanism. The turbine can be quickly driven along the support piers below the water surface during storms, for example. The tidal turbine can thus cover a whole 20 metres within a very short time.
It goes without saying that the demands on cable routing in this harsh environment are high. Corrosion, rough sea weather and, last but not least, the fact that parts of the energy supply and cables are permanently submerged in water required a robust design that would also operate with as little maintenance as possible far from the coast.


Due to the combination of climatic and mechanical demands that would have arisen on the high seas, a conventional metal chain was not an option for the energy supply.
Instead, an e-chain of the E4/4 series from our energy chain portfolio is travelling here today. It protects the chainflex motor and signal cables, also provided by us, during the turbine's lifting and lowering movements along a travel of 20 metres. During this process, the robust energy chain is guided in a steel trough.The vertical lifting movement is converted into a horizontal one via a 90° deflection. And the most important thing in this application: the plastic chain eliminates the need for any maintenance on the open sea, which made it the only solution considered by the operators.

Tidal turbine
Tidal turbine energy chain
Tidal turbine energy chain
Tidal turbine energy chain

Fountain Design Limited, Mike Galbraith, Bishop Auckland, UK

More on applied products here

More applications from different sectors

To vector award