EXCLUSIVE: Canada’s feed-in tariff tempts Scottish tidal power developer to re-locate its testing programme to Nova Scotia from Argyllshire

Sustainable Marine Energy platform with the hydro turbines in Loch Etive
Sustainable Marine Energy platform with the hydro turbines in Loch Etive

EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

A Scottish tidal energy developer is taking the next phase of its turbine development to Canada – because it cannot secure sufficient government support here.

Sustainable Marine Energy, which is based in Edinburgh, has successfully completed the first phase of marine trials at Connel off the west coast of Scotland for its PLAT-I tidal energy platform hosting four SCHOTTEL Hydro turbines.

The company is now preparing to ship the platform to Nova Scotia and install it for a second phase of testing.

The Canadian project will be managed from Edinburgh with additional project staff recruited locally on-site as need be.

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. 

Sustainable Marine Energy has teamed up with the Canadian company Black Rock Tidal Power Inc for this follow-on project, which will evaluate the environmental impact and commercial potential of the PLAT-I technology.

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 three months and, as part of that process, is currently engaging with stakeholders in the local area.  

Jason Hayman, Managing Director of SME commented: “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.

“We are 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.”

However successful the Canada trials are, Sustainable Marine Energy will not be able to bringing this success back home to Scotland without revenue support from the UK government .

David Stoddart-Scott, Head of Communications at SME explained: “Our current further development and expansion plans are centred around Canada and South East Asia.

“This is because we have no revenue support with the removal of the 100MW ring fence for Wave & Tidal energies from the CFD auction pot. The Scottish Government continues to be incredibly supportive and can see the potential of tidal energy in terms of low carbon generation and employment – but energy policy is reserved to Westminster, and they seem tied up at the moment with Brexit and airport expansion at Heathrow.

“Taking our next test-phase was Canada was a key strategic decision for us. We had to identify markets with an early adopter attitude to support or where we could compete without subsidy. That second market has turned out to be South East Asia.

“Tidal energy is not yet cost-competitive with coal, wind or nuclear – but it will be.”

The SME 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 WATERS 3 programme. The testing programme has successfully validated the platform and power generation technologies, with multiple platform motions and loads being measured.

All systems performed as expected allowing the key advantages of the PLAT-I system to be proven.  From the outset low cost assembly and marine operations have been a key design driver with both of these being demonstrated in the Connel testing programme in Loch Etive, Argyllshire.

The modular nature of the platform, whilst making assembly on land easy with small cranes, has also allowed a number of components to be changed during the testing programme. Uniquely to the PLAT-I platform it has been possible to change out blades and work on the SCHOTTEL SIT generators in situ, with only small vessels required.

Hayman, 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 Canadian 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.”

4 Jul 2018


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