PLAT-I tidal energy platform enters operation
Tidal energy technology developer Sustainable Marine Energy (SME) and Schottel Hydro have completed the installation of a new tidal energy platform in Scotland.
The PLAT-I tidal energy system at Connel, near Oban, has been designed for inshore tidal sites to provide power at a community scale helping to establish tidal energy as a viable clean energy alternative for coastal and islands with limited infrastructure.
“As a team we have taken PLAT-I from drawing board to first power generation within a period of 15 months - this is a real achievement and testament to the talent and dedication of our staff. The support of the Scottish Government as well as our supply chain partners and investors has also been instrumental to this success,” said Jason Hayman, managing director of SME.
“It is a fantastic feeling to be able to offer the first affordable and viable tidal energy system for small to medium size projects of less than 10MW for remote coastal and island communities that are currently reliant on diesel generation,” he said.
PLAT-I is a multiple turbine floating tidal energy platform hosting Schottel Hydro's (SHY) turbine system rated at 280kW. The power take-off system comprises four Schottel Instream Turbines (SIT) and an accessible power conversion system hosted in an on-board container.
“Over the past few years Schottel has invested a great deal into the development of the SIT turbine and power conversion systems,” said Niels A Lange, managing director, Schottel Hydro GmbH.
“This provides an economically and practically viable means of delivering SITs globally for tidal and river markets. This is the fully integrated system the tidal energy market needs. We see substantial market opportunities in South East Asia, Canada and elsewhere which we are looking forward to exploring together with SME.”
The operation, including tow-out, was completed in under five hours using Green Marine’s multicat vessel, Green Isle.
Within 48 hours, SME and Schottel Hydro teams had completed the first phase of commissioning the system.
This included first power generation and preparation for the large spring tides during the first week of December. Over the course of the subsequent spring tide, the system performed well being operated autonomously through its platform control system. All four SITs reached rated power and proved their performance characteristics. The platform has demonstrated excellent stability throughout a range of tide and weather conditions.
The innovative design of PLAT-I facilitates easy and low-cost transport, assembly and launching close to the intended deployment site.
All tasks can be performed using local, readily available equipment; as an illustration of this, the system was assembled and launched at Dunstaffnage Marina over a period of four weeks using a standard mobile crane. The platform features the ability to lift the SITs out of the water, enabling easy access for ongoing maintenance and reduces the depth of water required for launching and tow-out.
PLAT-I was fabricated in Scotland by JBS Group in Peterhead between July and October. SME was supported by London Marine Consultants in aspects of the detailed design of the mooring turret and connection system. SME has received grant funding from the Scottish Government’s WATERS 3 programme for the project.
Following conclusion of testing at Connel in Scotland, PLAT-I will be disassembled and transported to South East Asia, where it will be delivered to Envirotek Pte Ltd for redeployment as part of a grid connected first commercial demonstrator array project in the Philippines.
Envirotek is a Singapore-based clean-technology investment company with ambitions to develop clean energy projects in South East Asia. SME, Schottel Hydro and Envirotek have identified several high impact project opportunities in the region where tidal energy can displace existing diesel generation.
By Anne-Marie Causer
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