EXCLUSIVE: Scottish tidal-power turbine manufacturer wins EU-funding for sea-trials off Orkney

The twin-turbine Capricorn tidal power generator
The twin-turbine Capricorn tidal power generator

EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

From the metaphorical ashes of the Scottish wave power energy – which sank with the financial collapse of the then ‘most likely to’ contenders (Pelamis and Aquamarine) – a prospective new Scottish tidal power phoenix could arise.

Renewable Devices Marine Ltd, which designs and manufactures from its base near Edinburgh, has won EU-funding for sea-trials of its Capricorn tidal marine power turbine at offshore Orkney.

The EU-funded FORESEA programme has awarded “recommendation for support” status to the Capricorn tidal-powered turbine generator, subject to it agreeing a final trial contract with the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkney isles.

 FORESEA is an £10 million project which helps to bring offshore renewable energy technologies to market by offering free access to a world-leading network of test centres across Europe – including EMEC.

The Capricorn 5 (50 kW turbine) and the Capricorn 125 (1.25 MW turbine) provide the lowest cost, the most reliable and the most environmentally sound marine energy generation anywhere in the world, say the developers.

SWIFT air turbine
SWIFT air turbine

Renewal Devices Marine Ltd is part of the Renewable Devices Group – set up renewable energy pioneer engineers Dr. Dave Anderson and Dr. Charles Silverton. The group has already pioneered and patented the Swift ™ roof-mountable small-wind turbine.

Dr Anderson said: “Our Capricorn marine turbine can generate 3,300 MWh per year of clean electricity – that means that a single turbine is capable of powering 733 typical U.K. households.

“When set up in an array of 20 turbines, the technology would generate enough energy to power about 15,000 typical U.K. households.

“Unlike wave energy, the tidal flow never stops. Throughout the day, the tidal flow changes as we move between high and low tides, so this means that there are two periods during any day that the flows are at a peak. At peak points, the turbine generates a rated power output of 1.25 MWh.

“The turbine has a horizontal-axis, contra-rotating, twin-rotor architecture. Each rotor has three blades, designed to be bidirectional in operation, thus negating the need for costly and complex yaw and blade pitch mechanism.

“At Renewable Devices Marine Ltd we have brought together world class innovation and a proven engineering track record in renewable energy product development, to deliver the world’s lowest cost and most environmentally sensitive marine energy, in the form of the Capricorn Marine Turbine – a unique tidal stream turbine design delivering an unrivalled combination of innovation and reliability.”

Unlike the surface-based wave power turbines trialled by Pelamis and Aquamarine – which were pounded to destruction by harsh weather, tidal-turbines operate in strong – but calmly-consistently-flowing underwater currents.

Anderson explained: “Tidal energy is the last great untapped global energy resource available to us, with a worldwide potential far in excess of other renewable energy resources.  

Doctors Dave Anderson and .... designed and built their Capricorn tidal power turbine in a shed near Edinburgh
Doctors Dave Anderson and Charles Silverton designed and built their Capricorn tidal power turbine in a shed near Edinburgh

“Caused by the gravitational interaction between the Earth with the Moon and Sun, the movement of tidal waters across the globe is highly predictable and never ending.  

“Most tidal stream (hydrokinetic) turbines operate by placing a horizontal axis turbine in to the tidal flow, where energy is extracted, much in the same was as a wind turbine operates in wind flows.”

See also:

UK govt. quango says Wave Energy Scotland is ‘backing the wrong horse’ and instead calls for sub-sea tidal energy priority


23 Mar 2018

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