Photo: ORPC’s RivGen device operating in Alaska, April 2020 (Courtesy of ORPC)

EU hands out €3M boost for tidal turbine made of recycled materials

Ireland-based ÉireComposites has secured the European Union funding to lead the international consortium to jointly develop and market marine hydrokinetic turbine (MHK) made of recycled carbon fibres.

Photo of ORPC’s RivGen device operating in Alaska, April 2020 (Courtesy of ORPC)
ORPC’s RivGen device operating in Alaska, April 2020 (Courtesy of ORPC)

The €3 million funding boost, awarded by the European Commission via its Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) programme, will see the international consortium collaborating on the development of a tidal turbine based on proprietary design of U.S.-based Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC).

The project, named CRIMSON, will bring together ÉireComposites and four other organisations including NUI Galway, Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials (MCAM), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), and ORPC.

The CRIMSON project, valued at €3.9 million, plans to bring to market ORPC’s marine energy river and tidal turbine with foils made entirely of recycled carbon fibre, while also reducing capital expenditure and operating expenditure by 33% and 66%, respectively.

The project impact is expected to be two-fold – firstly, it will reduce technology manufacturing costs and, secondly, it will also significantly reduce the environmental footprint of the materials employed in the turbine, leading to a more sustainable model of manufacturing within the sector, according to project partners.

Photo of the RivGen Power System operating in the Kvichak River (Courtesy of ORPC)
The RivGen Power System operating in the Kvichak River (Courtesy of ORPC)

The longer-term impact of CRIMSON is expected to demonstrate that this technology has the potential to generate gigawatts of clean energy from river and tidal currents.

It is estimated that there is some 615 TWh/year per year of harvestable power from tidal streams, ocean currents, and riverine currents – which is approximately 20 times Ireland’s annual electricity usage.

Tomas Flanagan, ÉireComposites’ CEO, said: “The amount we have received will cover 75% of this project’s cost and as the sole Irish-led project funded in this call, it is a massive achievement for the country.

“At the conclusion of this project, we will have delivered a product that will have a positive impact on both the renewable energy sector and wider society.

“There is no doubt that society is progressing towards greener communities and I believe CRIMSON will play a positive role in this transition in terms of driving down costs for both the industry and consumers but also increase the productivity of the renewable energy sector”.

Director of European Operations for ORPC, James Donegan, added: “ORPC has been growing operations in Ireland and Europe over the past several years and we see the technological advancements we will achieve with the CRIMSON project as crucial in commercialising our marine energy systems in the region.

“Having worked with ÉireComposites and NUI Galway on previous and current Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) projects, we look forward to working with them on developing our megawatt-scale turbine and we are confident in the team’s ability to achieve the ambitious targets laid out by the CRIMSON project”.

The project is a continuation of previous research conducted by SEAI, and is supported by Údarás na Gaeltachta and Enterprise Ireland, who continue to assist the work undertaken by ÉireComposites.