The UK’s fledgling tidal energy sector marked an impressive milestone this week after Rolls-Royce confirmed that its prototype generator in Scotland has generated 100 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable, clean power.
Rolls-Royce said that a 500kw tidal turbine, built by Tidal Generation Limited, has generated more than 100MWh since connecting to the grid in September last year. The machine is installed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC’s) test site off the Orkney Islands, and is the first in the area to receive Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs).
Robert Stevenson, vice president of Rolls-Royce’s Power Ventures division, claimed that the announcement is a major step towards commercialisation.
“Reaching the 100MWh milestone highlights the significant potential of cleaner, greener tidal power as part of a diversified UK energy mix,” he said. “Having proven the capability of tidal energy, Rolls-Royce is well placed to meet any future demand with larger, more efficient technology on a commercial scale.”
The system features a three-blade turbine attached by a tripod to the seabed, and can operate fully submerged at a depth of 40 metres.
Tidal Generation Limited is planning to deploy 20 of the 500KW machines in the fast-flowing Inner Sound area of the Pentland Firth, as part of a much larger 400MW project being developed by the MeyGen consortium.
Rolls-Royce is also currently building a 1MW tidal turbine demonstration unit that will be deployed in mid-2012 at EMEC in Orkney. The project is being supported by the Energy Technologies Institute-funded Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal consortium.
The news is the latest in a string of positive announcements for the tidal energy sector.
Last week saw the UK and Scottish governments announce plans to increase tidal power subsidies under the ROC scheme.
Tidal stream developers now look set to receive five ROCs per MWh generated compared to the current two.
The Scottish government also unveiled an £18m fund to support the development of the country’s first commercial wave and tidal power arrays. Well done UK. Keep up the good work.