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Floating Tidal Energy Commercialisation project (FloTEC)

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - FloTEC (Floating Tidal Energy Commercialisation project (FloTEC))

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-08-31

Tidal stream power is one of the newest entrants to the global renewables market. The resource and generating characteristics indicate that it has the potential to become a low cost, highly predictable form of low carbon energy. Currently, however, generating costs are high and long-term reliability has yet to be demonstrated.

Orbital Marine Power is the leading developer of floating tidal energy. This involves the mounting of turbine generators to a highly accessible, towable floating platform for ease of installation, maintenance and decommissioning. It has been independently recognised that floating tidal energy has the potential to deliver a step-change cost reduction to the tidal stream sector. In 2016, the company launched a 2 MW floating tidal turbine, the SR2000, the most powerful tidal turbine in the world.

The FloTEC project aimed to drive the commercialisation of floating tidal energy, through the delivery of priority technical innovations in both the Orbital platform design and subsystem areas to reduce cost and risk and deliver an enhanced 'O2 2MW' model, which would be a template for volume manufacture. The core innovations being progressed are:

• 50% Increase in rotor swept area.
• All subsystems highly accessible for repair and maintenance
• Simplified superstructure redesign for series production
• Advanced, automated manufacturing techniques for blade manufacture:
• Enhanced power conversion with ability for energy storage integration;
• Mooring load dampers to reduce peak mooring loads.

The project consortium consists of leading supply chain, development, utility and research institutions. In additional to technical delivery, the project consortium would resolve a suitable risk sharing structure between supply chain, customer and financier and commercial contractual structure for first array(s) supply.

The project ran for 68 months from January 2016 to August 2021.
Initially, a global market assessment was completed. This report recommended priority regions for Orbital to develop first array opportunities and also fed into the product specification. A LCOE report for Orbital tidal technology was performed by DP Energy and EDF as part of a design review process for a number of potential project sites. Yield assessment and availability predictions were also derived. A lessons learned report on the design and fabrication and of the SR2000 was produced as an input to the FloTEC concept design process.

Since then a ‘ground up’ re-design of the turbine was developed and detailed design completed in all subsystem areas. The main features of the new superstructure design are:

• Legs hinged axially to give a ‘gull-wing’ movement to present nacelles, pitch systems and blades to surface for maintenance
• Legs attached above the waterline to simplify build, maintenance and provide improved cable routing with hull penetrations above the waterline.
• 2 x 20m rotor diameters with pitch controllers;
• Optimised for volume manufacture
• Enhanced, lower cost power conversion

The O2 tidal turbine incorporating all the above innovations and a number of other optimisations has now been constructed and launched. It was installed at the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney, Scotland in June 2021 and is fully grid connection and exporting power. All indications are that the unit is operating in line with performance targets. Environmental monitoring and performance assessment are ongoing.

The project has resulted is a significant amount of IP, including patents around the key enabling features of the technology applied for and secured. The next steps include longer term performance assessment and environmental monitoring, developing a pipeline of sites for the tidal technology and continuing to reduce costs through technology innovation.
The FloTEC project is now in the operaation phase with the installation of the O2 2MW in June 2021. The O2 2MW is predicted to become the world’s most powerful and low cost tidal turbine. It incorporates a range of technical innovations set out in the DoA and a range of additional innovations and enhancements to ensure it is a commercially compatible model and a template for early volume manufacturing. Overall, the generating solution is predicted to deliver a levelised cost of energy of c. €200/MWh in line with project aims, which would be unprecedented in the tidal energy sector.

In addition to the core system components now under construction, designs have been completed for complementary energy storage and mooring technologies for the O2 technology. A costed design has been completed for transforming tidal power export into continuous (baseload) generation export with battery storage. Full scale mooring dampers for the O2 technology has been designed that will enable peak loadings to be reduced to enable a range of through system cost reductions.

Supply chain relations have also been strengthened and evolved considerably. SKF has significantly expanded their scope of supply from main shaft, bearings and seals as set out in the DoA to an entire turnkey supply of the O2 nacelles. This is a significantly new product offering by SKF, enabled by FloTEC, and advances the potential for the sector to deliver warrantable, bankable, generating solutions. Furthermore, the O2 design has been developed to allow for lower risk fabrication and installation, such that SME’s can engage in the technology supply chain, with several contracted already for the turbine build. Notably, the entire O2 superstructure is being delivered by SME companies, while the O2 installation and operation will be executed with SME companies.

Market development activities have also being progressed. There have been challenges owing to the lack of market support in the EU for tidal stream energy projects. The project consortium has worked closely with OEE, the UK Marine Energy Council and through other industry working groups to influence national government policy.

There has been significant communication and dissemination activities, with almost 1,000,000 views of videos and other promotional literature produced by the project consortium.
FloTEC tidal array