Richard O’Mara at CBS News:
He calls his “innovation” the Underwater Electric Kite, or UEK. This is the logo of the firm he and his artist wife, Denise, established here in 1981. The turbine is so named because it moves like a kite: Anchored to the bottom by a cable and controlled by a computer, it rises or descends searching for the layer of water where the tidal current runs fastest.
Faster currents yield more energy. Marine turbines, propellers contained within a housing, do underwater what windmills do in the air: draw energy from their element.
Vauthier has had some success with his aquatic kites. He is working with Alaska Power and Telephone Company, a utility, to put two turbines in the Yukon River to provide power for the town of Eagle. Bob Grimm, president of Alaska Power, says he thinks the UEK technology “might be revolutionary.”
Vauthier designed one for the New York Power Authority for use in the East River. He has a contract to put two in a river in Zambia, to light a missionary school and hospital, and also in the Caqueta River in Colombia to serve two local communities.
His projects, usually 50 to 100 kilowatts, haven’t been large. Nor have his earnings. Yet he’s undaunted.