Scots renewable energy company wins lead role in £20 million European tidal energy project

A Nova Innovation tidal power turbine being prepared for launch off Shetland.
A Nova Innovation tidal power turbine being prepared for launch off Shetland.

An Edinburgh-based renewable power company has won a major new European tidal energy project, heading a consortium of nine leading industrial, academic and research organisations from across EU.

The Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal (EnFAIT) project builds on Nova Innovation’s existing operational tidal power station in Bluemull Sound off the Shetland Islands – which was the world’s first grid-connected offshore array of tidal energy turbines.

The project, which will run until June 2022, has been won as a competitive contract awarded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to develop marine energy sources and demonstrate technologies in European waters.

The project is a flagship initiative for the EU and marine energy, and aims to increase the commercial viability of tidal power.

It will extend the Bluemull Sound array to six turbines and demonstrate that high array reliability and availability can be achieved using best practice maintenance regimes. The layout of the turbines will be adjusted to enable array interactions and optimisation to be studied for the very first time at an operational tidal energy site.

Total project costs are expected to be some £20 million, to which the EU will contribute about £15 million.

Simon Forrest, Chief Executive, Nova Innovation, said: “Winning this project in this very competitive call represents a huge vote of confidence in the ability of Nova Innovation and its partners to deliver.

“The project will make a major contribution to reducing the lifetime costs of tidal energy, and will boost investor confidence by providing hard-edged analytics of commercial and operational performance to inform investment decisions.”

“Being able to provide evidence of our technology delivered and working in real grid-connected conditions was crucial to our winning the EnFAIT project.”

Founded in 2010, Nova Innovation now employs over 30 staff. Ian Marchant, former chief executive of Perth-based utility SSE, joined as chairman in 2013.

Rémi Gruet, Chief Executive of Ocean Energy Europe, described the project as an important pathfinder for the tidal energy industry in Europe: he said:

“This announcement is further proof that the tidal energy industry is now in take-off mode.

“The EnFAIT project is an important pathfinder project and will help strengthen Europe’s global technology leadership in tidal energy. The knowledge, experience and expertise gained from projects like this will pave the way for a new industrial manufacturing sector with a supply chain based firmly in Europe”.

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