U.S. DOE puts form and function of tidal power test vessel up for industry input

Multi-national corporation IDOM, in collaboration with U.S. partners, is seeking feedback from tidal energy industry on the optimal design of a mobile test vessel to ensure its capabilities provide best support for the scope of tidal energy turbine testing.

Illustration/Initial mobile test vessel concept (Courtesy of IDOM)
Initial mobile test vessel concept for illustration purposes. The final configuration and appearance of the vessel may differ significantly (Courtesy of IDOM)

On behalf of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), IDOM has partnered with Florida Atlantic University’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) to solicit industry requirements for a current energy converter mobile test vessel.

The partners have launched a survey for tidal power industry stakeholders related to the design requirements and scope of a mobile test vessel to ensure it meets as many needs identified by the industry as possible.

The mobile test vessel is expected to be able to accommodate a wide range of turbine types and sizes, current speeds, depths, wave conditions, and seabed types.

The vessel will also be able to support anchoring and mooring for the testing of current energy converters in rivers, tides and open sea.

According to the survey, the test vessel will potentially incorporate an onboard power generation system to support test setup, maintenance, inspection, testing, and services for data acquisition systems as well.

“The results of this request for information will be used to define the mobile test vessel’s requirements and scope. It is a unique opportunity for current energy converter developers and other knowledgeable parties to help ensure that the mobile test vessel will suit their future development and technology testing needs,” it is stated in the survey.

The interested parties are encouraged to submit responses to the survey before February 18, 2022 to IDOM.

To remind, the survey is part of $22 million funding initiative by the U.S. DOE – launched in April 2020 – with the aim to address the gaps in research, development and testing capabilities for marine energy in the United States.

Current energy converter prototypes must be tested in real-world environments to fully characterize and validate the performance, reliability, maintainability, and potential environmental impact.

As existing testing infrastructure in the U.S. can only accommodate small scale converters, with rotors 2-3 meters in diameter, there is a need for a mobile testing capability that can accommodate devices with up to 8-meter diameter rotors.

The mobile test vessel is expected to fill that gap and enable the testing of various turbines under different flows in a wide range of test conditions.

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