France's new lab for tidal turbine development opens its doors

France’s new lab for tidal turbine development opens its doors

France’s Ifremer and HydroQuest have set up a joint laboratory for the development of offshore tidal turbines. Supported by the National Research Agency, the goal of the laboratory is to develop analysis tools and support for the design of tidal turbines adapted to marine constraints.

Credit: Hydroquest

Ifremer and HydroQuest launched the joint VERTI-Lab laboratory on January 11 to create specific analysis tools and support for the design of tidal systems and facilitate the development of commercial farms.

“This joint laboratory, the first at Ifremer with an industrial player, should allow us to build together the tools necessary for the development and monitoring of commercial tidal farms. The experimental data will be used to validate the numerical developments and the design of new generations of tidal turbines,” said Gregory Germain, Researcher at the Ifremer Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory.

This project is an extension of a collaboration the companies initiated in 2015.

The partners are counting on the complementarity of their skills to jointly remove technological obstacles by focusing on experimental and numerical modeling to study and optimize the behavior of vertical axis tidal turbines; the study of the influence of turbulence, wake effects and sea states on the quantity of energy produced and the wear of tidal turbines; improving estimates of operating conditions; and the development of bottom stations suitable for monitoring the operation of tidal farms and evaluating interactions with ecosystems.

“Hydroquest welcomes this 4-year program in partnership with Ifremer,” said William Maurice, R&D Engineer at HydroQuest.

“After the success of our Oceanquest offshore demonstration project, this collaboration will allow us to significantly optimize the performance of our technology. The first advances can thus be implemented on our Flowatt project, the future most powerful tidal turbine pilot farm in the world installed at Raz-Blanchard, supported by the Ministry of Energy Transition as part of the France 2030 plan.”

Thanks to the laboratory, Ifremer and HydroQuest are hoping to also strengthen their understanding of the hydrodynamics of sites with high tidal potential. The development of industrial tools will thus benefit from the experience acquired through tests at the wave and current basin at the Ifremer Manche North Sea Center in Boulogne-sur-mer and at the sea testing site at Sainte-Anne du Portzic, which will complement previous in situ tests on the Paimpol-Bréhat test site.

To remind, the French government in July 2023 committed to provide at least €65 million of funding and dedicated revenue support for the pioneering tidal energy farm FloWatt, in an effort to support the commercialization of the tidal energy industry.

In November, French President Emmanuel Macron announced commercial tenders for tidal stream as part of the French energy strategy update (PPE).

Flowatt will be the biggest tidal farm in the world, with the most turbines and the largest capacity. Due to start operating in 2026, France’s first tidal pilot farm will meet the electricity needs of 20,000 people for 20 years.

The project is a strategic collaboration between HydroQuest, project developer Qair and industrial partner Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN).

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