Photo: D10 tidal turbine installation in France (Photo: Sabella)

French tidal turbine armors with smart monitoring

French tidal energy company Sabella has teamed up with QOS Energy to improve the performance monitoring of its Ushant tidal energy project, located off the west coast of France.

The operation of the 1MW tidal turbine, installed in the Fromveur Passage back in October 2018, has been optimized with QOS Energy data intelligence platform, the developers informed.

Immersed 55 meters under water at the bottom of a strait that lies between Ushant Island and the Molène archipelago, Sabella’s D10 tidal device uses the data platform, backed with more than 100 sensors on the turbine, to identify, assess and anticipate potential failures.

Specific data acquisition techniques, and innovative analytics tailored to the constraints of the demanding sub-marine environment, have also been developed through the collaboration, QOS Energy and Sabella said.

Jean-François Daviau, CEO of Sabella, said: “Operating and maintaining a utility-scale tidal turbine at such depth is particularly challenging, and data collection and analysis plays a vital role in doing so successfully.

“QOS Energy’s data intelligence platform enables our O&M team to visualize critical KPIs such as water pressure, temperature, swell energy prediction, rotor speed or torque compared to power produced. We need this cutting-edge monitoring capability to be able to fully understand performance, and effectively control potential failures.”

Sabella’s technology can be deployed as part of large tidal commercial arrays, as well as answer the energy needs of remote off-grid island communities.

Off-grid tidal energy represents a considerable and largely untapped market, considering that about 11,000 islands worldwide are permanently inhabited by a population in excess of 730 million people in total.

“Tidal turbine technology has great potential for off-grid islands that can now harvest their abundant tidal resources. Unlike most other sources of clean power, tidal energy produces renewable power in a regular and predictable manner, enabling operators to reliably forecast power production over the full life-cycle of a project,” added Daviau.

With an energy cost of energy per MWh that can be 5 to 10 times higher than in interconnected areas, tidal energy, potentially associated to other renewable sources and storage capabilities, is emerging as a sound economic model for off-grid islands, according to Sabella.

Jean-Yves BELLET, VP-CTO of QOS Energy, said: “We believe that effective plant monitoring and optimization will be instrumental in bringing this emerging technology from the margin to the mainstream.”

Sabella’s D10 trials, expected to last for three years, will see the turbine tested with onshore battery storage system, set up to increase the grid stability, as part of the ICE project.

The demonstration follows the 2015-2016 testing campaign, during which the D10 turbine produced and exported tidal power to the French national electricity grid.