Tidal stream energy has made a further step towards commercial viability following what has been described as the most comprehensive lifecycle assessment to-date of a megawatt-scale array in the UK.
The assessment, authored by Black & Veatch and free to view by anyone, shares lessons learnt during the planning, design, delivery and operation of MeyGen’s six-megawatt (MW) array in Scotland’s Pentland Firth.
Phase 1A of the MeyGen project was partly funded through a £10m grant from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, with a requirement that lessons learnt from the project were collated and shared.
“The assessment offers valuable lessons for everyone involved in developing tidal-stream energy as a viable source of power,” said Tim Baker, Black & Veatch marine energy director. “At each point in the asset’s lifecycle the report identifies where efficiencies, cost savings, economies of scale and improvements can be achieved. Crucially, the assessment also shares safer ways of working in the potentially high-risk marine environment.”
MeyGen Phase 1A, a 6MW demonstration array comprised of four 1.5MW tidal turbines, entered its 25-year operations phase in April 2018. The array has successfully exported 21 gigawatt hours to the grid to date, with an average turbine availability of circa 95% during its operational phase.
The assessment explains what worked well, what was less successful, and – based on this knowledge – makes recommendations to enhance the success of future projects.
“Tidal is probably the most dependable source of renewable energy we have, but the technology is still maturing. Making the MeyGen Phase 1A report free to all to access will help the process by further de-risking the development of future tidal energy projects,” added Robbie Gibson, Black & Veatch renewable energy services director.
Tidal stream energy could theoretically supply more than 150 terawatt hours per annum globally. This represents a potential total global market of up to 50 GW of generating capacity. Tidal is a significant source of renewable energy; its predictable nature makes it a valuable part of a balanced energy mix, helping to balance load and demand alongside other forms of renewables such as wind and solar power.
Regions with significant tidal stream energy resources include Bay of Fundy, Canada; UK; France; China, South Korea and Indonesia.