Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) installation of a 1MW HS1000 tidal turbine developed by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, installed in December 2011 has since been undergoing tests in the tidal waters around Orkney.
The test device located off Orkney is providing electricity for homes and businesses on the northern Orkney island of Eday to prove that the technology can operate efficiently in Scotland’s fast-flowing tides and that monitoring and maintenance operations can be honed and to help reduce costs in operations and installation.
SPR plans to use this technology as part of the world’s first tidal turbine array in the Sound of Islay. The company’s plans to develop a 10MW tidal array in Islay received planning consent from the Scottish government in March 2011.
Keith Anderson, chief executive officer of Scottish Power Renewables fills in the background with, “Engineers were able to install the device during atrocious weather conditions and it has been operating to a very high standard ever since. We have already greatly developed our understanding of tidal-power generation and this gives us confidence ahead of implementing larger-scale projects in Islay and the Pentland Firth.”
“The performance of the first HS1000 device has given us great confidence so far,” Anderson added.
The 1MW HS1000 tidal turbine is said to be seen as one of the worlds most advanced tidal turbine designs, a prototype device has been generating electricity in Norway for more than six years. The design is based on a mixture of technology used in traditional onshore wind turbines, subsea oil and gas production and in hydropower plants.
Andritz Hydro Hammerfest’s managing director Stein Atle Andersen offers, “The 1MW pre-commercial device is an important step in our staged strategy for developing reliable and cost-efficient tidal energy converting devices and power plants. The tests being carried out so far have confirmed the design basis for the technology and given comfort concerning the device’s capacity.”
Brimming with well-earned confidence Andersen adds, “We are still early in the testing program with endurance, availability and reliability being the most imminent factors for asserting a proper basis for developing commercial tidal-energy power plants. However, we are already well into design engineering for the first power plant.”
Six years on site operations will do that for an engineering effort.
All is not in ideal circumstances though. The tides where the tests are underway run water through between the islands very fast. Although coming up on six months is a good confidence builder the prototype will need a close inspection. Should the prototype pass inspection within specifications the launch of a system of tidal turbines could get underway.
The beauty of the Scot’s plan is there seem to be little in other costs involved. A tidal capture behind a dam would add a dam cost and other significant investments to hold back flow for extended use. The Scottish location, while not fully operational throughout the course of the day, has two periods when the flow reverses yielding a down period twice each day. Still, that down time is very short and absolutely predictable – years into the future.
The Scots are quite blessed by topography and planetary position. Like Iceland with its huge repository of geothermal, Scotland could serve a model of local self sufficiency.
This is a fine example of making what is local pay off.