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A power company's plans to create energy by harnessing power from sea waves suffered a setback after an 80-tonne generator capsized off the coast.

A spokeswoman for Trident Energy, who developed the pioneering technology, said the experimental wave generator was being towed out to sea to begin a year-long offshore trial when the accident happened yesterday near Southwold, Suffolk.

The technology, which was featured in Leonardo Di Caprio's eco-documentary, The 11th Hour, was being tested in the sea to gather detailed information on how the machine performed. A Coast Guard spokeswoman added the floating generator was being towed to its new location five miles off Southwold when it capsized at 12.35pm yesterday.

Yarmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre watch manager Mario Siano said: "The floating generator was later connected to a tug and grounded three miles south-east of Southwold harbour entrance. "All appropriate authorities have been informed and the MCA counter pollution officer is aware and is monitoring the situation."

A spokeswoman for Trident Energy said: "The 80 tonne platform has been grounded three miles east of Southwold harbour and made secure. The company is in the process of making arrangements to move the platform to a suitable location where any damage can be fully assessed before determining next steps. "Trident Energy can confirm that the incident was in no way related to its patented technology to convert sea wave energy into electricity."

The machine was made to stand on a giant pair of legs, supported by submerged pontoons anchored to the sea bed, to hold it above the waves. Special floats move up and down with the waves to drive generators, which convert the motion into electricity.

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