Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EnFAIT (Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal)
Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31
The EnFAIT project centres on scaling up Nova Innovation’s operational Shetland Tidal Array (STA) from three 100kW devices to six devices. Basing the project on an existing array minimised development risk and allowed the project to generate real-world results from day one. In a world-first, turbines in the array will be repositioned during the project to explore the effects of array configuration on array output, reliability and cost of energy.
The project partnership of seven European organisations, led by Scottish tidal energy developer Nova Innovation, will deliver a project that:
- demonstrates a step change in the lifetime cost of energy for tidal power;
- proves that high array reliability and availability can be achieved with best practice maintenance regimes;
- captures and disseminates substantial learning on fundamental issues for the ocean energy industry;
- builds investor confidence; and
- takes a significant step towards creating a commercial, bankable tidal energy sector.
The objective is to demonstrate a route to bankability for the tidal energy sector. This project represents a major step change in the development of the European tidal energy sector and will demonstrate the strong economic benefits that can be delivered by the maturing tidal energy market.
Two main highlights of the recently completed third reporting period (Jan-20 to Dec-20) were:
- Installation of the fourth turbine T4 ‘Eunice’ at the STA, the first of the new EnFAIT turbines.
- Record breaking performance from the STA, including successfully completing five years of powering homes, businesses and the Shetland grid, demonstrating reliability and durability.
T4 is the first of three M100D turbines set to double the size of the STA as part of the EnFAIT project, making tidal energy a commercial reality. The new direct drive turbine – which eliminates the need for a gear box – significantly reduces the cost of tidal energy and is set to revolutionise the industry. The turbine has significantly fewer moving parts, increasing its reliability and extending the period between service intervals to more than two years. T4 builds upon the learnings captured through the EnFAIT project, delivering a massive performance and efficiency improvement, along with driving down costs.
T4 was successfully installed in August 2020 and has been performing exceptionally since. The plug and play turbine system has been developed for rapid deployment, enabling turbines to be containerised, transported and installed anywhere in the world using locally available infrastructure. This was demonstrated with the installation of T4 which was completed using locally available, cost effective methods.
Recording Breaking Performance
The original turbines at the STA, T1-3, were upgraded during the first 2.5 years of the project and since then have gone from strength to strength. RP3 saw the turbines break records for operational periods, with 2 turbines achieving a 15-month service interval and 1 turbine achieving 19 months and counting. This exceeds the project KPI target service interval of 6 months and highlights the excellent performance of the project.
All 3 turbines continued to demonstrate high availability, averaging >90% for the planned 12-month operational period during RP3 in which the turbines clocked up 14,000 operating hours and generated 469 MWh of electricity.
When performance is analysed since the EnFAIT upgrades were installed on T1-3, the following is demonstrated:
- Total annual power production has more than doubled compared to performance before the EnFAIT upgrades.
- The time between offshore maintenance intervals has increased by more than 50% compared to the first EnFAIT deployments.
These figures, along with five years of operation, demonstrate that tidal energy has now moved beyond the prototype stage towards becoming an investable asset class.
- Availability: T1-3, averaged >90% availability during their planned operational period during RP3. T4, once fully commissioned delivered 99% availability.
- Reliability: Service intervals have been extended beyond the 6-month turbine service interval KPI target for the project.
- Technology: Advances in technology associated with the M100D turbine bring significant improvements, driving down the cost of tidal energy.
- Local economic impact: During the last 12 months alone, over 33% of supply chain expenditure of the EnFAIT project went to local companies in the Highlands and Islands region of Scotland, exceeding the project KPI target of 25%.
- Environmental knowledge: Analysis of 10+ years of bird and mammal surveys conducted at the STA have confirmed that the risk of negative environmental effects from operational turbines is extremely low. This result is significant for the ocean energy sector as a whole and will help deliver enhanced strategic planning and consenting processes for tidal energy. This industry enabling result was recently published by the licensing authority, Marine Scotland, in a blog - https://blogs.gov.scot/marine-scotland/2021/01/26/what-lies-beneath/
The consortium will continue to engage with investors and potential clients to focus on investor needs and demonstrate commercial attractiveness. Environmental and socio-economic impacts will continue to be assessed in order to identify and promote the benefits of ocean energy arrays and mitigate any remaining barriers to commercialisation.
The close collaboration of leading European industrial companies demonstrated in EnFAIT is helping to root the emerging tidal energy industry and supply chain in Europe and maximise the potential impact of the sector on European jobs and growth.
Ocean energy resources are typically located close to remote and fragile communities. Evidence from EnFAIT demonstrates that tidal energy can have a significant, positive economic impact on remote communities, contributing to the Blue Growth Strategy objective of achieving sustainable growth in maritime communities. These benefits will continue to be tracked by the EnFAIT team as the project progresses.
Europe is estimated to contain up to 50% of global tidal energy resource. Utilising this renewable, predictable and indigenous source of power could meet 8% of European energy demand, thus reducing the need to import fuels and improving EU energy security.