The Kobold Turbine – The First Full-Scale Plant for the Exploitation of Marine Currents

Alberto Moroso
President of Atena, Italy


Marine tidal currents are an enormous source of energy, clean and renewable. Having the same physical principles of the wind, the marine currents are generated by the gravitational interaction between Moon and Hearth, therefore they are the only renewable source which can be predicted with a trustworthy precision. At the end of 1995 the company “Ponte di Archimede S.p.A.”, a company held by the shipping company “Caronte”, owner the ro-ro ferries sailing in the Strait of Messina (between Sicily and Mainland), a place very famous since ancient times for its very strong currents, begun to study and design a new type of turbine for the exploitation of marine currents with the cooperation of University of Naples, the Kobold turbine, patented by Ponte di Archimede. After many tests carried out both in the wind tunnel and in the towing tank of University of Naples and in the towing tank of INSEAN (now CNR), Ponte di Archimede designed and built a first full-scale pilot plant which was launched and installed in the Strait of Messina in 2001. The plant was made of a floating buoy, anchored at the sea-bed, and of a Kobold Turbine of 80 kW of maximum power under its keel. This lecture will go through the main steps carried out for studying the Kobold Turbine and building the whole plant, which was the first full-scale plant in the world for the exploitation of marine currents. It will also examine all the main technological choices which made possible the reliable working of the turbine and its connection to the Italian electric grid.


Alberto Moroso, graduated cum laude in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in 1995, during his career designed and refitted many vessels of different sizes and typologies. He is an expert in marine structures and ships stability. He carried out several tens of stability calculations for almost any type of commercial vessel. He designed and patented the Kobold Turbine, the first full-scale turbine in the world, for the energetic exploitation of marine currents, launched in 2001 in the Strait of Messina. He has been consultant to UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) for marine renewable energies and he mainly works as a consultant and designer for Shipyards and Shipping Companies, being co-founder and managing partner of Studio Tecnico Navale e Meccanico Moroso Starita. He is member in organizing/scientific committees of international marine conferences, invited member of the Technical Commission of Confitarma (Confederation of Italian Shipowners) and National President of ATENA (Italian Association of Naval and Marine Technicians). He participated as speaker and chairman in many international conferences on shipping and marine renewable energies. He was also Appointed Professor at University of Trieste for the course of “Marine Equipment and Systems”.