European project demonstrates potential for significant reduction in tidal energy costs

European project shows potential for significant reduction in tidal energy costs

A European project led by Scottish tidal energy developer Nova Innovation has demonstrated that the cost of tidal energy could potentially be reduced by as much as 40%.

Deployment of the fifth and sixth turbine at the Shetland Tidal Array (Credit: Nova Innovation)

The €20 million EnFAIT (Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal) Horizon 2020 project brought together seven partners including Nova Innovation, which manages the world’s first offshore tidal array – the Shetland Tidal Array, and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.

The project, which started in 2017 and recently completed, had the objective of lowering the cost of tidal energy, Nova Innovation said.

During the project, the company installed three new 100kW direct-drive turbines and a subsea hub alongside the three existing turbines in the Shetland Tidal Array. For the first time, wake effects between turbines in a real-world environment were analyzed to identify the optimum spacing between turbines in an array, and the effect this has on energy generation. The data collected has helped to calibrate computer modeling for future tidal energy projects.

According to Nova Innovation, EnFAIT showcased exceptional array performance, highlighting the new turbines’ readiness to generate power for an impressive 95% of the time, and also demonstrated reliability and cost competitiveness by extending the time between turbine maintenance periods from six months to two and a half years.

Simon Forrest, CEO of Nova Innovation, said: “EnFAIT has been an incredibly successful project. We have reduced costs by 40%, doubled the size of the world’s first offshore tidal array and extended turbine service intervals to two and a half years; all of which are remarkable achievements. These are crucial steps for building investor confidence and making tidal energy bankable.” 

The project delivered one of the world’s most extensive datasets on the environmental effects of tidal turbines, revealing no evidence of adverse effects on marine wildlife, and strengthened the local supply chain by using 70% Scottish content and 100% European content across its lifetime.

Besides Nova Innovation and ORE Catapult, the EnFAIT partners from across Europe were IDETA, RSK, SKF, Wood and The University of Edinburgh.

“With its abundant natural resources and unrivalled experience in marine renewables, Scotland is in a prime position for the development and deployment of tidal stream energy,” said Neil Gray, Cabinet Secretary for Energy in the Scottish Government.

“The findings of this exciting project highlight the substantial progress in making tidal an affordable energy source, and I congratulate Nova Innovation for its pioneering work, which contributes to Scotland’s response to the global climate emergency.”

Related Article

Last month, Nova Innovation secured EU funding for a 4 MW tidal energy farm that will be home to the largest number of tidal turbines anywhere in the world.

The project, dubbed Seastar, builds on the achievements of the Shetland Tidal Array which has been powering homes, businesses, and the Shetland grid since 2016.

Subscribe and follow

Offshore Energy – Marine Energy LinkedIn