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Turning the tide in tidal energy costs with fourth turbine installed off Shetland Islands

The latest turbine deployed at the Shetland Tidal Array is playing its part in reducing tidal energy costs by a third, making tidal energy competitive with fossil fuels.

Climate Change and Environment
Energy

Ocean energy has the potential to contribute billions of euro to the European economy in the next few decades. To make this a reality, tidal energy technologies need to be further developed in order to harness energy in a way that is economical and also complements other renewable energy sources. Aiming towards this goal, the EU-funded EnFAIT project has been working to create confidence in tidal energy technology and to drive down costs so that tidal energy can compete with other energy sources. The EnFAIT team spent the first half of the project’s 5-year duration learning from the 3 turbines already installed at the Shetland Tidal Array – the world’s first offshore tidal array in Scotland’s Shetland Islands. The first Nova M100 turbine was deployed in March 2016, followed by the second and third in August 2016 and early 2017, respectively. According to a news item posted on the ‘Energy Voice’ news platform, EnFAIT project coordinator Nova Innovation has now installed a fourth turbine at the array in Bluemull Sound, Shetland.

The fourth turbine

Named Eunice, this latest installation is the first of 3 turbines set to double the size of the Shetland Tidal Array to 6 turbines, with a total rated capacity of 600 kW. The commercial direct-drive tidal turbine is said to have a 100 kW capacity and a 20-year lifespan, and it’s already providing electricity to homes in Shetland. By cutting tidal energy costs by a third, this next generation of turbines is making it possible for tidal energy to compete with fossil fuels. “We are generating electricity from the immense power of our seas. Our proven technology is displacing fossil fuels and changing the way we power our lives,” stated Nova Innovation CEO Simon Forrest in the news item.

Future plans

The direct-drive turbines being installed in the final half of the project will demonstrate the technology’s ability to slash the cost of tidal energy. “We are very excited about the future. The global potential for this untapped, abundant and valuable source of renewable energy is enormous. We are driving down costs and branching into new markets to make tidal energy mainstream. By 2030, tidal energy will be cheaper than nuclear power and fossil fuels, providing cleaner and sustainable energy for coastal communities around the world,” observed Forrest. “By the project’s finish in 2022, Nova Innovation and its partners will have demonstrated a clear cost reduction pathway for tidal energy,” Matthijs Soede, the European Commission’s Research Programme Officer for Ocean Energy, noted in the news item. “The project will deliver a bank of evidence for its environmental and socio-economic benefits. We should be able to apply these learnings and technologies to settings across the world – putting tidal power firmly at the forefront of our energy transition.” EnFAIT (Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal) ends in June 2022. For more information, please see: EnFAIT project website

Keywords

EnFAIT, tidal energy, turbine, tidal array, Shetland

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