Large-scale tidal power project launches in Scotland

Large-scale tidal power project launches in Scotland
A single AR1500 turbine from Atlantis Resources will be installed as part of Phase 1A of the project
A single AR1500 turbine from Atlantis Resources will be installed as part of Phase 1A of the project
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A single AR1500 turbine from Atlantis Resources will be installed as part of Phase 1A of the project
A single AR1500 turbine from Atlantis Resources will be installed as part of Phase 1A of the project

The MeyGen project is a large-scale effort to deploy up to 398 MW worth of offshore tidal stream turbines, connected to the UK National Grid by 2020. The project is now officially underway, with Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, unveiling four 1.5 MW turbines, which together make up Phase 1A of the project, at an event in the Nigg Energy Park in Scotland.

The four 1.5 MW turbines are built by two companies – three by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, and a single AR1500 turbine from Atlantis Resources (pictured above) – each weighing an impressive 200 tonnes (220 tons). They're all now fully assembled, and are ready to be positioned atop their foundation structures on the quayside at the Nigg Energy Park. Once attached, each turbine will be transported to its operational site by a Neptune jack-up vessel, operated by Geoseas.

Sitting on the seabed, the turbines are similar in appearance to wind turbines, with a three-blade design. However, the blades on tidal stream turbines tend to be smaller in size, thanks to the much denser nature of sea water compared to air. The Atlantis Resources turbine being installed in Scotland features a mechanism that lets it to turn through 180 degrees, allowing it to switch direction with the tide.

This new milestone comes three months after the project successfully connected an underground, 33kV power export cable to the grid, in June 2016. The turbines are expected to deliver their first power to the UK grid later this year.

These initial turbines might only be the first part of a much larger puzzle – the completed project will see 269 turbines deployed, powering some 175,000 homes – but they represent the culmination of a lot of preparation for the companies and individuals involved.

"It gives me enormous pride to have reached this juncture after 10 years of tireless work, preparation and planning by everyone associated with this project," said Atlantis Resources CEO, Tim Cornelius. "This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the UK's future energy mix."

The project is just the latest example of how we're harnessing nature as a source of green energy. Back in May, New Atlas was on the ground in Gibraltar, where Eco Wave Power switched on the first ever grid-connected wave power plant in Europe.

Source: Atlantis Resources

My brain assumed when seeing the headline that a tidal turbine wouldn't need to spin around 180 degrees when the water flowed out. I was surprised to read about the spin move. Isn't there a way to have the shaft turn in the same direction whether the water flowed one way or the other against the same turbine, facing a fixed direction? Some sort of transmission that locks against a gearbox when being pushed towards it, and locks against a different gearbox when being pulled against it. Seems like you'll lose lots of time and energy during the spin transition.
Reversing blades can't be optimised for both the reverse flow as well as the primary direction. It can be done but allowing the head to swivel (actively or passively) allows for flow optimisation (blade twist hydrofoil development etc) for greater efficiency. The 180 degree slew may only take a couple of/or several minutes at slack tide (many minutes with little or no energy available), not a lot of power would be needed (or none is passively actuated).
I really like this idea because when the tide slackens and turns in one area of the sea, it is still flowing strongly in other areas relatively close by. This means there will never be a total power loss from the generators as they will all have have their slack moments at slightly different times.
'Tide and Time will Wait for No Man!'..... So good luck with harvesting one of the earths most powerful constants. Wave power doesn't cut it for me because there are too many fine days. I will eagerly watch this project and have always wanted to build something similar on a micro-scale to keep the batteries topped up on the boat I am lucky enough to keep on a tidal river. One fine day.
Jonathan Colvin
Weird I'd have thought it would be easier and cheaper just to have the reverse the blades rather than the entire unit, but I guess not....
Bob Stuart
In the sea, that design makes even less sense than on land. A cheap mooring is all you need to hold an underwater kite to carry the turbines. It easily changes direction, and with ballast tanks it can be brought to the surface for service at slack tide, or flown down out of the strongest flow to let ships pass. It can even give the turbines a steady speed by tacking back and forth across the tide with a fixed wing, Makani style. There may be further savings overall if the wet hardware only pumps water up into a hydro power reservoir, for use on demand.
No cost numbers is a bit suspicious.