12 Sep 2011 02:09:16
Lowering the cost of marine energy generation
As the tidal industry moves towards full scale multi megawatt arrays, one of the main challenges facing the sector is lowering projects overheads. The key is to ensure R&D investment looks at the overall infrastructure and practical mechanics of project installation and operation and maintenance regimes rather than development of turbine technologies in isolation.
What makes tidal very different from other sectors is the limited operational windows there is for installation, operation and maintenance at subsea level. The window may open every six hours, but in flat tide areas, it can be between 30 minutes to one hour. Missing those windows can cost a developer a huge amount of money.
Coping with tidal site characteristics, such as the tough seabed conditions found in the UK and the best resource locations also comes into play.
Once you get into deeper waters, a lot of the existing structures such as the gravity bases and monopiles just cannot cope with the loads of a turbine in the strongest part of current flow.
The focus for the immediate future should therefore be on small-scale projects, especially in a climate where project finance is harder to come by and on-balance sheet funding is a developer’s main option.
That's why key representatives from Vattenfall, Scottish Power Renewables, TGL (Rolls Royce), MCT, Atlantis Resources, Hammerfest Strom, Voith, Pulse, Tocardo, Tidal Energy Ltd, EMEC, Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy, Narec, Gurit and many more are coming together to discuss their experiences and ideas for cost effectively installing, operating and maintaining small scale multi megawatt arrays.
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