Photo: Vincent and Roisin Mc Cormack, father and daughter founding team of GKinetic Energy (Courtesy of GKinetic Energy)

VATTS to pair tidal turbines with battery storage in Strangford Lough demo

A new project, dubbed VATTS, has been launched with the aim to demonstrate vertical axis tidal turbines coupled with battery storage technology in a demonstration planned for Strangford Lough later this year.

Photo of Vincent and Roisin Mc Cormack, father and daughter founding team of GKinetic Energy (Courtesy of GKinetic Energy)
Vincent and Roisin Mc Cormack, father and daughter founding team of GKinetic Energy (Courtesy of GKinetic Energy)

The VATTS project consortium, led by Queen’s University Belfast, brings together three industry partners including GKinetic Energy, Grant’s Electrical Services (GES), and The Electric Storage Company (TESC).

The project, valued at €490,000 and supported by the Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE), will see two GKinetic Energy’s 10kW hydrokinetic turbines deployed in Northern Ireland’s Strangford narrows later in 2021, while GES will lead the development of a battery solution.

VATTS will explore ways to tie together the latest energy storage technologies and end user demand profiles, developing a framework for specifying an integrated system to provide an affordable, zero carbon alternative for baseload electricity directly to end users.

By pairing battery storage technology with efficient hydrokinetic turbines, the project aims to unlock a largely untapped renewable energy resource and subsequent huge market opportunity where just 1% market share is valued at €3.84 billion, according to project partners.

Carwyn Frost, Lecturer in Marine Research Group at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The CASE-funded VATTS project will harvest the kinetic energy available at the Strangford Lough Tidal Test Site to produce baseload electrical energy at community scale. Commercial success in this sector requires further research and enhanced resource assessment standards are required for floating tidal energy technologies.

VATTS will achieve this by developing on the latest standards to validate the Annual Energy Predictions (AEP) for floating tidal energy technology with the actual energy production from the commercial demonstration”.

Roisin Mc Cormack, COO and Co-Founder at GKinetic Energy, said: “Our 10kW offering can be deployed and operational within a day, being simply towed out and moored in place just like a boat. We offer a fast, flexible, low impact floating solution that enables people to generate clean, predictable energy from their nearby rivers, canals, estuaries or tidal streams.

“However, a key market blocker for us is the delivery of the power to end users in a similar fast and flexible way. Traditional subsea cables are not always feasible and, depending on the deployment site, can be expensive. The VATTS project is a really exciting opportunity for us to look at using leading energy storage technologies as an alternative for power delivery and this could accelerate market rollout of tidal energy solutions”.

A battery option for power transmission will offer a mobile and low-cost solution that opens up commercial opportunities and accelerates market uptake for tidal technology within Northern Ireland, Ireland and further afield, project partners said.

It is anticipated that by removing the need for a cable shore connection the costs, complexity and environmental concerns are all immediately reduced.

David Moore, CEO of GES, said: “As we continually drive to go green, it is our goal to ‘digitise, decarbonise and decentralise’ our energy usage throughout the island of Ireland. We intend to use this concept to develop the model to deliver energy solutions, which will improve our environmental sustainability and reduce marine emissions within the sector.

“This project will provide for the unique opportunity for concept test in the marine sector, where having the battery element to further improve the flexibility and simplicity of the solution we offer means these excellent deployment sites can become real commercial projects in much less time than would be expected through a traditional network cable reinforcement”.

Environmental assessment will be a key aspect of the project, where partners will be able to assess sea mammals behaviour and impact on other saltwater marine life, along with assessing the technology power curves, the project partners noted.