A tidal energy turbine installed off the coast of Orkney has generated a staggering amount of electricity in the past year, underlining the potential that tidal power could play in years to come.
Through near continuous operation, the Scotrenewables SR2000 has generated three gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity using its 2MW turbine.
The 3GWh generated by the SR2000 over the past 12-months is more power than that generated by the entire wave and tidal energy sectors in Scotland in 12 years. Scotrenewables believes that this provides convincing evidence of tidal power’s market readiness and showcases the innovative potential of the sector.
Andrew Scott, CEO of Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said: “It is a phenomenal result. For one, we’ve had continual generation or testing for a year. That’s fairly unique in this sector.
“We’ve generated over three GWh into the Scottish grid.
“That’s more than three times any prototype system that’s come before us and, in fact, cumulatively that’s more power generated in 12 months from this single turbine than the entire wave and tidal energy sector has done in Scotland in the 12 years preceding the launch of this turbine.”
Since its launch in 2003, the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) has tested 30 different tidal power devices, and between all of them, they have generated 2.8 GWh hours of energy. For this latest prototype to have produced such a staggering amount of energy, the company said, design plays a key role.
The SR2000 is around 63 metres long and the design of the generator differs greatly from previous tidal power systems.
These older systems used machines that function in a similar fashion to wind turbines; albeit while fixed to the seabed. The SR2000 resembles a boat with rotors hanging from a device which float on the water surface. This design makes it far easier for engineers to carry out maintenance on the prototype due to the accessibility of the machine’s moving parts.
Highlighting the potential of tidal power for the UK is a key objective as the industry moves forward from significant setbacks. In 2014, tidal power firm, Pelamis, went into administration following its failure to secure investment.
In May 2018, a report from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult said that the tidal stream industry could generate up to £1.4 billion for the UK economy and support 4,000 jobs by 2030.
Scott believes that a key objective for the industry should be to raise awareness and attract government support. Currently, a lack of market opportunity may be forcing companies to gaze further afield.
He said: “We are dismayed that there is a total lack of market support here in the UK for our technology, and we have no option but to focus our business on overseas opportunities.”