Skip to main content

Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EnFAIT (Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-12-31

Tidal energy is a significant potential source of sustainable, predictable, low-cost energy. With a global ocean energy market worth 145 billion EUR, marine energy could contribute billions to the EU economy by 2050, offering strong business growth and job creation opportunities. Our ability to extract energy from tides is at an early stage of technology development; the challenge faced by the sector is to extract that energy economically and compete with alternative sources of electricity generation.

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 eight 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.

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.
The EnFAIT project has made significant progress during the second Reporting Period (RP2) towards the overall aim of the project, which is to demonstrate a grid-connected tidal energy array that proves high reliability and availability with best practice maintenance regimes.

RP2 has seen all project tasks and objectives completed as planned with highlights being:
• successful completion of scheduled maintenance for the entire STA in record time – all 3 turbines recovered, serviced and redeployed within 3 weeks;
• successful continued operation of the STA – 24,000 turbine generating hours achieved to date;
• delivering a positive economic impact, significantly expanding the project supply chain to cover 14 EU countries;
• completion of the project development phase and on track to deploy 3 more turbines in 2020, doubling the size of the array;
• Huge local support (over 85%) in Shetland and demonstrated socio-economic impact to the region (over 40 local suppliers on Shetland; over 50% supply chain expenditure in the Highlands and Islands region)
• Active dissemination and communication of project results through social media, conferences and project videos - www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWz--3ODH1k

The project team has utilised the communications platforms developed during the first Reporting Period to continue to promote the project and the wider benefits of tidal energy.

The EnFAIT consortium continues to perform very well. The project is progressing on schedule and within the available budget, which has been monitored regularly during RP2 and will continue to be monitored and managed as the project progresses.

Of the 72 deliverables due to be submitted to the European Commission as part of the project, 45 have been submitted in total and 6 of the 10 project Milestones have been achieved.
EnFAIT will demonstrate the full lifecycle of a tidal energy array, from design to decommissioning. It will prove the reliability of tidal energy technology by demonstrating best-in-class reliability and availability. In addition, the devices will be highly instrumented and operated to generate learning into key factors affecting the performance of a tidal array, drawing out the critically required lessons for future cost reductions.

Availability: the three turbines redeployed in May 2019 have been operating continuously since then, demonstrating high availability, and racking up over 24,000 generating hours since 2016.

Reliability: With 9 months since the last service, the project has exceeded it’s 6-month turbine service interval target for the existing turbines.

Technology: a bespoke NOVA-CAN subsea electrical connector has been developed and deployed on all three existing turbines. This has contributed to array availability and reliability, having racked up with thousands of trouble-free operating hours. The solution is available for other marine energy developers to use.

Local economic impact: over 50% of supply chain expenditure during the first 18 months of the EnFAIT project went to local companies in the Highlands and Islands region of Scotland.

Public support: surveys of the local population have confirmed over 85% public support for tidal energy in Shetland.

Environmental knowledge: analysis of 9 years of bird and mammal surveys conducted at the site have confirmed the benign impact of the project on the environment. This knowledge will be used to improve the survey methodologies, analysis tools and assessment of consenting risks for this and other marine energy projects.

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 will help 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 far from centres of population, 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 be 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.
Nova Innovation M100 turbine being deployed in Shetland
EnFAIT interactive stand at Science is Wonderful event in Brussels
University of Edinburgh students visit Nova Innovation's facility in Edinburgh
Nova Innovation M100 turbine operating in Bluemull Sound
European map highlighting the EU supply chain expansion delivered through the EnFAIT project
Nova Innovation M100 pre-deployment in Cullivoe, Shetland