Scots-based Offshore Renewable Energy agency launches project to cut costs and improve reliability of tidal turbines

ORE Catapult's 3MW drive train facility. The worker (bottom right) gives an ideal of scale.
ORE Catapult’s 3MW drive train facility. The worker (bottom right) gives an ideal of scale.

Tidal turbines suffer similar operational issues to wind turbines.

And the costs of retrieving and reinstalling a tidal turbine, and the loss of income from power generation can be significant, driving up operation and maintenance costs.

As a result, the Glasgow-based Offshore Renewable Energy agency (ORE) aims to improve the reliability of tidal turbine powertrains by addressing the unique issues faced by developers when converting energy to electricity in subsea arrays.

Improved reliability will increase energy output and ultimately drive down the cost of marine energy.

The tidal turbine powertrain reliability project draws on reliability data and generic lessons learnt from many industries including offshore wind, oil and gas, defence, automotive and rail.

The methodology, developed in partnership with Ricardo and DNV GL, allows designers to understand and control the factors influencing product reliability and hence operational performance, improving the detection of weak links at the design phase and significantly improving design optimisation.

ORE marine specialist Simon Cheeseman said: “Improving the reliability of tidal turbine powertrains, and being able to iron out failure at the design stage, will significantly increase investor confidence in tidal turbine technology and ultimately reduce the cost of tidal energy to the consumer.

“The successful completion of Phase 1 of this project is a major step forward in understanding the ‘Physics of Failure’ in tidal turbines. Applying best practice from automotive, aerospace, wind, offshore oil and gas and defence sectors has enabled us to confidently quantify system reliability issues.”

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