High velocity marine currents are found in tidal areas and between land masses like the Cuba and Florida and between Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula. Up to 3 knot currents have been recorded in the Florida Straits. The highest current velocities are usually recorded near the water's surface. There are many concepts that have been patented and some developed to turn marine currents into power, but most of these concepts have underwater mechanical components that are very difficult and expense to maintain. The "Current Catcher Pontoon Barge" only has structural components below water and no mechanical components underwater. The paddles are underwater structural components that are not subject to wear and are designed to be very large and have very high drag coefficients so they can catch as much force as possible from the high velocity surface currents. The paddle wheels have easily replaceable bearings located above water. Keeping all mechanical equipment above water under a water tight dry enclosure allowing quick and safe maintenance and replacement of wear components and equipment preservation which is a major advantage of the "Current Catcher Pontoon Barges" resulting in maximum uptime and low OPEX.
Another significant advantages of "Current Catcher Pontoon Barges" are that: 1) their pontoons are the lowest cost form of floating offshore structure; 2) they can be built in almost anywhere in the world; 3) they can be towed to site and attached to their pre-installed mooring lines and export power cable in less than a day; 4) are ready to start producing power immediately; 5) their 20m OD paddle wheels supply enough torque to power four 6 megawatt direct drive wind turbine type generators (located under the barge enclosure ) at their maximum capacity.
"Current Catcher Pontoon Barges" can also support subsurface current generators (like Marine Energy Corporation’s Current Catcher Frames) for additional power generation capacity and provide surface maintenance facilities for the subsurface generators without the need to mobilize special underwater maintenance vessels.