Sustainable Marine Energy to launch ‘commercially viable’ tidal energy project after buying 16 new turbines for Orkney array

A Schottel Hydro turbine
A Schottel Hydro turbine

Sustainable Marine Energy has bought 16 ‘plug ‘n play’ Schottel turbines to launch a ‘commercially viable’ tidal energy project in Orkney

Over the next two years German manufacturer Schottel Hydro will deliver 16 of its instream turbines with a capacity of 62 kW each to Sustainable Marine Energy (SME).

Although based on the Isle of Wight, Sustainable Marine Energy has an operateing base in Kirkwall, where it has signed a long term contract with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to build a platform array off the Orkney Islands.

SME is developing a turnkey tidal energy system, called PLAT-O which is a moored, buoyant platform that is positioned mid-water column. 

Following successful sea trials in the Solent during summer 2015, the company’s first PLAT-O system – which hosts two Schottel instream-turbines –  will be installed at EMEC later this year. The next generation PLAT-O system will be large enough to host four turbines.

Four of these platforms will be deployed in 2016/ 2017 to complete the array. The installed power output of the array will be 1 MW and will be directly fed into the Scottish power grid.

Jason Hayman, Managing Director of Sustainable Energy Marine, said: “This co-operation between SME and Schottel Hydro demonstrates that tidal energy can be produced cost-effectively and it’s great to be working with them to deliver an integrated system to the market.

“This multi turbine array – the first of its kind in the world – will prove that tidal energy devices can be installed in a low cost manner and operated profitably over the long term.

“Commercially viable tidal energy has arrived with this integrated solution from SME and Schottel Hydro.”

During the sea trials off the Isle of Wight, Schottel instream-turbines and PLAT-O have successfully proven to be a perfect match. Both, the turbines and the platform, are designed to be lightweight, robust, stable and simple.

PLAT-O is placed under the surface of the water and can flexibly adjust to the place with the strongest current. Apart from a marker buoy, the system is not visible on the surface. The buoyant platform is taut moored to the seabed using a tailor made anchoring solution that has also been developed by SME.

The PLAT-O platform array will host 16 Schottel Instream Turbines. These have a rotor diameter of four meters and are designed as downstream turbines which are self-aligning to the flow. The SIT design and features hydrodynamically optimized passive-adaptive composite blades with no need for any active pitch mechanism. Their drive trains are standardised with a two-stage planetary gearbox, an induction generator and a mechanical brake.

Niels Lange, Managing Director of Schottel Hydro, commented: “With this system we offer SME a simple “plug and play” solution for their PLAT-O platforms. We are very proud to be part of this project with 16 SIT turbines sold.

“The PLAT-O system provides us with a route to market and we expect to deliver many more SITs to Sustainable Energy Marine for these systems in the near future.” 

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