Impacts of Eastern Scheldt tidal turbines under examination

Illustration/The installation of Eastern Scheldt tidal array (Photo: Tocardo Tidal Turbines)

The hydrodynamic effects of Tocardo’s tidal turbines on the surrounding environment at the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier in the Netherlands are being investigated by PhD candidate at Delft University of Technology, Merel Verbeek.

Verbeek’s research, backed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, and the Dutch authority for Public Works and Water Management known as Rijkswaterstaat, is focused on the potential impacts of tidal stream turbines on seabed morphology and enclosed estuaries, according to TU Delta, a weekly magazine of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft).

The array of five turbines was installed at the Eastern Scheldt barrier by a Dutch tidal energy developer Tocardo Tidal Power back in September 2015.

The investigation will see Verbeek examine if blockage effects of a gate with turbines increase the water speed and turbulence in neighboring sluice gates, and the potential impacts on the soil protection, TU Delta reports.

“If the impact on the environment proves to be insignificant, then the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier could indeed fulfil the urgent societal need for clean and renewable sources of energy in order to combat the disastrous effects of climate change,” Tocardo’s Project Manager, Peter Scheijgrond, said for TU Delta.

The findings at the barrier will be combined with research conducted at the laboratory, with the expected completion date set in 2020, according to TU Delta.

The 1.2MW Eastern Scheldt tidal array features Tocardo’s T2 turbines fitted with bi-directional rotor blades as the barrier only closes when a heavy storm approaches. This enables the turbines to generate electricity during ebb and flood.

The array started producing power in November 2015, generating enough electricity for approximately 1000 Dutch households. The operational phase of the project is expected to last for 20 years.