Harnessing the power of tidal steam energy

February 2018

Pioneering the use of tidal steam energy, Scotrenewables Tidal Power has developed cost-effective floating tidal stream turbines. 

The company has developed its technology to full commercial scale, testing a 2 MW unit at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney through 2017,  resulting in a number of industry records and generating over 1.5 GWh of electricity so far. 

In 2018, the company will launch a production model that is widely expected to deliver a step-change reduction in cost and risk associated with tidal energy generation. And also in 2018, Scotrenewables take their place as a finalist at the 2018 Offshore Achievement Awards!

We spoke to Scotrenewables' Business Development Manager, James Murray, about what it means to be nominated and what's next for this exciting technology. 

Congratulations on your nomination at this year's OAAs! How does it feel to be nominated in the popular Emerging Technology category? 

"The entire company is extremely proud to have been nominated for this highly regarded award. The team has been working for more than a decade to develop a low cost approach to tidal energy generation. Our flagship machine, the SR2000 2MW, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine was launched last year and it’s great to receive this external recognition for the hard work and continued innovation needed to reach this milestone."  

For this continued innovation, how does the company stay motivated?  

"From the very outset, Scotrenewables Tidal Power set out an ambitious aim to deliver the world’s lowest cost tidal energy generation solution and a philosophy to only use low cost, locally based vessels for all offshore operations. Setting out these uncompromising principles for product development has spurred on our engineering and offshore team to develop cutting edge approaches to platform turbine design and associated installation and maintenance methodologies. Indeed, the close-knit team and excellent communication we’ve encouraged has ensured that the generating solution being developed is optimised and costs reduced for the whole project lifecycle."  

And despite changes in the industry, these principles have remained? 

"Yes. As we’ve continued to scale our technology over the past decade, we’ve stuck rigidly to these principles. In 2017, we launched the SR2000 2MW, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine with each unit producing enough electricity for 1,000 homes. Throughout its testing programme to date, we’ve demonstrated and ensured through innovative design that all installation and maintenance operations can be carried out with modest sized workboat or crew transfer vessels, in transit times of less than 1 hour. We believe this approach will ensure we can deliver a step-change cost reduction in electricity generation from tidal currents."  

Throughout the development process, what are the challenges you have encountered?

"When the company was founded back in 2002 to develop a low cost tidal stream generator, there was no existing blueprint for the ‘right’ way to deliver this. The tidal stream resource globally, while massive, is almost completely unharnessed.  Indeed, sea users traditionally tend to avoid tidal areas, whereas we’re looking to employ large scale, reliable generators in this environment which can see currents of over 8 knots."  

How did you tackle this? 

"We’ve developed, with support from our supply chain partners, a unique form of floating tidal generating platform, whereby all subsystems are situated in a highly accessible, floating superstructure for low cost servicing. This focus on ease of accessibility, has ensured that we can employ standardised generation and rotational machinery, with proven reliability from other sectors, without having to develop bespoke expensive systems with additional levels of redundancy. 

"The platform can also be rapidly connected to its moorings at slack tide without the need for large dynamic positioning vessels further reducing costs. This approach has proven very successful with over 1.5 GWh of electricity generated from tidal currents during our most recent turbine test programme at the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney in the last six months of 2017."  

Impressive! So what's next for Scotrenewables? 

"We are currently in the final stages of design of a production model the SR2-2000 2MW, though the EU funded ‘FLOTEC’ project, collaborating with nine other leading industrial, research and supply chain partners, to deliver this product and in doing so deliver a step-change cost reduction for tidal stream generation.  We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other companies in areas such as anchoring, cabling, power conversion and offshore servicing and greatly appreciate the opportunity these awards bring to facilitate this engagement."

Do you see any other opportunities that the awards bring for Scotrenewables?

"We are delighted that this nomination gives us the opportunity to increase our profile within the wider Offshore Engineering sector and communicate the opportunities to others to get involved to deliver a viable supply chain solution and benefit from the tremendous global growth potential for marine renewables." 

For the full list of nominees, visit our finalists page. 

The 2018 Offshore Achievement Awards will take place on the 22nd of March 2018 at the AECC, Aberdeen. Visit our tickets page to find out about how you and your company can be there. 

Interested in finding out more about the Aberdeen section, or would you like to get involved, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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The Offshore Achievement Awards

The Offshore Achievement Awards (OAAs) recognise outstanding achievements in the energy industry.