Two steps forward, one step back for Marchant’s Nova Innovation turbines in Shetland tidal energy array

CGI of Nova Innovation M-100  tidal turbine
CGI of Nova Innovation M-100 tidal turbine

Edinburgh-based marine energy company Nova Innovation has reported progress on installing the first of five planned tidal turbines in its Shetland tidal array.

The company has raised £3.75 million for the Shetland Tidal Array – with most of the money coming from the Scottish Government and its local development agencies – with the Belgian renewable energy firm ELSA also providing funding.

The Shetland array will see five Nova M-100 turbines being submerged in Bluemull Sound with the aim of generating 0.5MW for the Shetland grid.

With all onshore works completed the focus has moved to preparation and deployment of the offshore components of the project.

The assembly and test of the first of three Nova M-100 turbines was completed on the quayside at Belmont harbour in Shetland. The turbine was then prepared for subsea deployment, to be undertaken in phases as tidal and weather windows permit.

Subsea environmental surveys were successfully completed prior to the deployment of the substructure. Both the substructure and ballast were successfully deployed at the planned location within the seabed lease area.

The 100 kW Nova M-100 tidal turbine is a next-generation device, and builds on what the company’s website claims is the ‘successful design, manufacture, testing and deployment of the 30 kW Nova 30 device’.

Although the Nova M-100 is three times the power of Nova 30 it is only two-times the cost. 

Nova M-100 was designed and planned to Nova Innovation’s three key design principles: safety, reliability and minimum lifetime cost. The Nova M-100 device is robust, scalable and suitable for deployment in a wide range of deep water, estuarine and river environments.

The Innovation website claims the Nova M-100 has the following benefits:

  • Safe and reliable deployment – designed for diverless installation and maintenance. 
  • High reliability – use of robust, proven off-the-shelf parts.
  • Lower cost – industry leading lifetime cost of energy; widely available deployment vessels, ease of transport, laydown and maintenance.

However, Nova Innovation has resumed responsibility for raising the prototype Nova-30 off the seabed after the North Yell Development Company (NYDC), on whose behalf the trial turbine was built and installed, has turned its back on the project after a series of apparent failures.

The local Cullivoe ice factory, which was supposed to be powered by the Nova 30 tidal machine along with an industrial estate and 30 homes, has switched off the connection because the turbine allegedly drained more energy than it generated.

Nova has now taken back ownership of the machine after NYDC asked for it to be decommissioned.

Attempts to contact the directors of Nova Innovation, whose chairman is former Scottish and Southern Energy chief executive Ian Marchant, have so far drawn a blank.

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