EXCLUSIVE By DARA BUTTERFIELD
Sustainable Marine Energy is to focus on their development at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney following the success of their PLAT-O system off the south coast of England.
The successful installation and subsequent electricity generation has boosted hopes that the cost of tidal energy is to rapidly decrease. The PLAT-O system was described by installers as “an extremely well designed system that enables low cost operations”.
Matt Slatter, Chairman, SME, said: “It has been a very busy and very exciting time for the team at SME. The completion of our testing programme in the Solent is a major milestone and the culmination of three years of hard work.
“PLAT-O has lived up to expectations and we are now focusing on the deployment of PLAT-O at the European Marine Energy Centre and the build of the second PLAT-O. We are building the team to deliver a farm of PLAT-O systems generating up to 1MW of power at EMEC by the end of 2016.
“ We will be installing PLAT-O#1 (our 100kW prototype) on our berth at EMEC towards the end of this year for long-term testing. We are currently designing PLAT-O#2, which will be built early next year and installed during Q2. This will be followed by three further PLAT-O#2s.
“These five PLAT-O systems will be configured in an array.”
Orkney-based Leask Marine provided the multi-cat, C-Salvor, along with deck crew and a dive team with extensive experience working in strong tidal environments for the marine operations.
Douglas Leask, Managing Director, Leask Marine, said: “This is the first substantial marine operation that we have carried out with SME and it was very straightforward. The plans were clear and the team were very professional to work with. We have worked with other tidal energy devices and, in comparison, PLAT-O is an extremely well designed system that enables low cost operations.”
PLAT-O is a buoyant platform that is taut moored to the seabed using a bespoke anchoring solution that has also been developed by SME. It sits under the surface of the water and due to its position in the water column boasts enhanced yield and survivability, which also ensures that surface vessels can pass safely overhead.
Jason Hayman, Managing Director, SME, said: “It’s a huge achievement for the team. PLAT-O has been generating power consistently, reliably and, most importantly has behaved as we predicted it would.
“The mooring solution we have developed and employed is as steady as a rock. The installation operation went very smoothly and it absolutely goes to show that tidal energy devices can be installed in a low cost and efficient manner.
“Developing systems and deploying them in these strong tidal flows is a massive challenge but we have nailed it. The cost of tidal energy is coming down rapidly with systems like PLAT-O coming on stream.”