SME Completes First Phase of PLAT-I Tidal Platform Testing

Photo: SME

Sustainable Marine Energy’s (SME) PLAT-I tidal energy platform hosting four Schottel Hydro SIT 250 turbines has completed the first phase of its testing programme at Connel, on the West coast of Scotland.

The company is now preparing to ship the platform to Nova Scotia and install it for a second phase of testing. Having proven the installation, operation and performance aspects of the platform, this second phase of testing will concentrate on proving performance in the harsher climate of Canada while also conducting environmental monitoring, with the aim of assessing interactions of marine life with the platform.

Black Rock Tidal Power has applied to the Nova Scotia Department of Energy for permission to install the platform at Grand Passage for a minimum trial period of 3 months and, as part of that process, is currently engaging with stakeholders in the local area.

Jason Hayman, managing director of SME said: “PLAT-I is graduating from Scotland to Canada, which is an important start to the export story for the Scottish marine energy industry. It also represents a change of gear for Sustainable Marine Energy, we started as an R&D company and are rapidly changing into a project delivery company based in Scotland.

“This has demonstrated by what our team has achieved in little more than 12 months. We have consented a new site, designed and built a new platform and have successfully run our complete testing programme in record time. I am grateful to the local community in Connel who hosted the first PLAT-I test, and very excited about what the next 12 months holds for us in Nova Scotia.”

The PLAT-I platform was designed with support from Innovate UK and DFID under the Energy Catalyst programme, with the build and testing receiving funding from Scottish Enterprise under the WATERS3 programme.

Dr Ralf Starzmann sales director and head of Hydrodynamics of Schottel Hydro said: “Connel has provided a fantastic testing facility for us with challenging tides and turbulence allowing us to test every foreseeable turbine mode. We are very happy with the data coming from the turbines, performing exactly to specification. Necessary turbine interventions during the testing had been carried out in situ, with only a small vessel required, this just wouldn’t have been possible without the flexibility and modularity of the PLAT-I platform. We are very excited to have been able to share data with all of the projects who have been involved, and look forward to the resulting research outputs which will benefit the whole tidal energy engineering community.”

SME is now teaming up with the Canadian company Black Rock Tidal Power (BRTP) for this follow on project, which will evaluate the environmental impact and commercial potential of the PLAT-I technology.

The results of the second phase of testing will provide regulators with more information to evaluate future tidal energy projects in the Bay of Fundy. Sustainable Oceans Applied Research (SOAR) is a not for profit Nova Scotia company which has been engaged to assist BRTP and its partners in site characterization, permitting and stakeholder engagement for the project.

SOAR is also advising on development of an appropriate environmental monitoring programme for the Grand Passage deployment to look at a variety of marine life including sensitive whale species known to frequent the area.

Jason Hayman, managing director of SME added: “Canada is an obvious choice for the next stage of PLAT-I and SME’s development because of the abundant resource in and around the Bay of Fundy. The area has fantastic natural resource, all driven by the largest tidal range in the world at up to 14m. But more than that, Canada, and Nova Scotia in particular is key to SME’s commercial strategy due to the revenue support available for the generation of clean energy from the tides. The Feed-in Tariff will allow us to reduce cost through cumulative deployment of tidal energy technology and be in a position to service markets globally including South East Asia.”

Back in Scotland, the PLAT-I platform is being prepared for shipping to Canada. The platform was towed away from the Connel Bridge site by the Meercat workboat ‘Venetia’.

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