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The world's first offshore deployment of two-bladed wind turbines, and Britain's first tidal power array, are both moving forward in Scotland's seas. Images: Crown Estate.
The world's first offshore deployment of two-bladed wind turbines, and Britain's first tidal power array, are both moving forward in Scotland's seas. Images: Crown Estate.
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Scotland's double first: tidal array and twin-bladed offshore wind turbines

The Ecologist

29th August 2014

Two innovative renewable energy projects are moving forward in Scotland: Britain's first tidal power array, and the world's first deployment of two-bladed wind offshore turbines. The experimental technologies are hoped to achieve significant cost savings and unlock a huge offshore energy resource.

Two-bladed designs at this scale are a major innovation for the offshore wind industry and the deployment offshore of the turbines at Methil will be the first in the world of its kind.

The Crown Estate has committed to invest nearly £10 million into the MeyGen Ltd tidal power development.

The 398MW project in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, Scotland, will require some £50 million of funding for its first phase.

Investors also include Atlantis Resources Ltd, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, and Scottish Enterprise.

The location is both highly challenging and promising due to the fast water speeds, according to the Crown Estate.

"The Inner Sound tidal array project has the potential to play a crucial role in advancing technology and developing essential construction and operating experience on the path towards larger commercial schemes around the UK and worldwide."

A long term comittment to unlocking the tidal resource

Rob Hastings, Director of Energy and Infrastructure, The Crown Estate said: "We have been a major player in the development of the offshore renewable energy industry for over 10 years.

"Our commitment to this investment is part of our strategy to explore the potential of tidal stream energy on a commercial scale with a project that offers a crucial stepping stone on the path towards unlocking the nation's tidal energy potential over the long term."

The Estate has so far leased over 40 sites for tidal current and wave projects, and has now started the first leasing process for tidal range projects. New seabed rights agreed this summer include:

  • Six new wave and tidal current demonstration zones across the UK.
  • Five new wave and tidal current sites, each with the potential to deliver a project of between 10 and 30 MW.

The Crown Estate is legal owner and manager of the UK's territorial seabed, giving it a key role in the development of the country's offshore renewable energy assets. It is also promoting the development the offshore wind, with up to a £100 million of investment.

Two-bladed wind turbines

The Crown Estate has also agreed terms with Forthwind Ltd, a subsidiary of 2-B Energy, for the UK's first offshore demonstration of two 6MW two-bladed turbines on the seabed at Methil in Scotland.

Two-bladed designs at this scale are a major innovation for the offshore wind industry and the deployment offshore of the turbines at Methil will be the first in the world of its kind.

The company will first build a full-scale onshore prototype in the Netherlands ahead of the two offshore machines planned for Methil, which are anticipated for deployment in 2016 subject to planning consent.

Achieving significant cost reductions

For offshore wind to flourish it's essential to develop new technologies as costs are roughly double those of onshore wind, making it unaffordable for large scale deployment at current prices.

It's also considered desirable to move the main focus of wind development out to sea to avoid the environmental problems associated with onshore wind; and because the offshore wind resource is far greater, with higher wind speeds.

Mikael Jakobsson, chief operating officer for 2-B Energy said: "We hope that through this offshore development and demonstration step, and following the completion of our first on-shore demonstrator in early 2015, to be able to validate significant cost reductions in future offshore wind deployment."

In addition to two-bladed turbine design, 2-B Energy are seeking to further reduce costs by integrating wind turbine technology with innovations in grid and access systems, the installation process and a new operational strategy.

Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind at The Crown Estate said: "In order to fully unlock the potential of offshore wind over the long term, it is vital that opportunities are made available to test and demonstrate innovative and emerging technology platforms to bring down costs and secure the UK's position as a global leader in offshore wind technology.

"We look forward with interest to seeing the technology mature."

 

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