Following a successful Scottish testing programme the first PLAT-I platform is being relocated to Nova Scotia, Canada
Sustainable Marine Energy is preparing to ship the PLAT-I tidal energy platform from Connel in Western Scotland to Grand Passage in Nova Scotia.
Sustainable Marine Energy’s (SME) PLAT-I tidal energy platform hosting four SCHOTTEL HYDRO SIT 250 turbines has successfully completed the first phase of its testing programme at Connel, on the West coast of Scotland. The Company is now preparing to ship the platform to Nova Scotia and install it for a second phase of testing. Having proven the installation, operation and performance aspects of the platform, this second phase of testing will concentrate on proving performance in the harsher climate of Canada while also conducting environmental monitoring, with the aim of assessing interactions of marine life with the platform. Black Rock Tidal Power Inc has applied to the Nova Scotia Department of Energy for permission to install the platform at Grand Passage for a minimum trial period of 3 months and, as part of that process, is currently engaging with stakeholders in the local area.
Jason Hayman, Managing Director of SME commented “PLAT-I is graduating from Scotland to Canada, which is an important start to the export story for the Scottish marine energy industry. It also represents a change of gear for Sustainable Marine Energy, we started as an R&D company and are rapidly changing into a project delivery company based in Scotland.” He continued “This has demonstrated by what our team has achieved in little more than 12 months. We have consented a new site, designed and built a new platform and have successfully run our complete testing programme in record time. I am grateful to the local community in Connel who hosted the first PLAT-I test, and very excited about what the next 12 months holds for us in Nova Scotia.”
The PLAT-I platform was designed with support from Innovate UK and DFID under the Energy Catalyst programme, with the build and testing receiving funding from Scottish Enterprise under the WATERS3 programme. The testing programme has successfully validated the platform and power generation technologies, with multiple platform motions and loads being measured. All systems performed as expected allowing the key advantages of the PLAT-I system to be proven. From the outset low cost assembly and marine operations have been a key design driver with both of these being demonstrated in the Connel testing programme. The modular nature of the platform, whilst making assembly on land easy with small cranes, has also allowed a number of components to be changed during the testing programme. Uniquely to the PLAT-I platform it has been possible to change out blades and work on the SCHOTTEL SIT generators in situ, with only small vessels required.
In addition the testing period has allowed collaboration with a number of research projects including SURFTEC, MET-Certified and Tidal Turbine Testing Phase 3 (TTT3). All have deployed instrumentation on or around the platform, monitoring a number parameters and their research will be publicly disseminated when complete.
Dr Ralf Starzmann Sales Director & Head of Hydrodynamics of SCHOTTEL HYDRO said “Connel has provided a fantastic testing facility for us with challenging tides and turbulence allowing us to test every foreseeable turbine mode. We are very happy with the data coming from the turbines, performing exactly to specification. Necessary turbine interventions during the testing had been carried out in situ, with only a small vessel required, this just wouldn’t have been possible without the flexibility and modularity of the PLAT-I platform. We are very excited to have been able to share data with all of the projects who have been involved, and look forward to the resulting research outputs which will benefit the whole tidal energy engineering community.”
SME is now teaming up with the Canadian company Black Rock Tidal Power Inc (BRTP) for this important follow on project, which will evaluate the environmental impact and commercial potential of the PLAT-I technology. BRTP is working closely with all of the relevant regulatory bodies in Nova Scotia and Canada to ensure that the Grand Passage deployment will increase scientific understanding of marine animal behaviour near the platform and provide a test bed for environmental monitoring systems. The results of the second phase of testing will provide regulators with more information to evaluate future tidal energy projects in the Bay of Fundy.
Sustainable Oceans Applied Research Ltd. (SOAR) is a not for profit Nova Scotia company which has been engaged to assist BRTP and its partners in site characterisation, permitting and stakeholder engagement for the project. SOAR is also advising on development of an appropriate environmental monitoring programme for the Grand Passage deployment to look at a variety of marine life including sensitive whale species known to frequent the area. BRTP and SOAR are already interfacing with various research institutions and private companies to ensure that the most robust monitoring procedures are followed using the most suitable instrumentation, so that the programme is repeatable for future tidal installations in Canada.
Jason Hayman, Managing Director of SME said “Canada is an obvious choice for the next stage of PLAT-I and SME’s development because of the abundant resource in and around the Bay of Fundy. The area has fantastic natural resource, all driven by the largest tidal range in the world at up to 14m. But more than that, Canada, and Nova Scotia in particular is key to SME’s commercial strategy due to the revenue support available for the generation of clean energy from the tides. The Feed-in Tariff will allow us to reduce cost through cumulative deployment of tidal energy technology and be in a position to service markets globally including South East Asia.”
Back in Scotland, the PLAT-I platform is being prepared for shipping to Canada. The platform was towed away from the Connel Bridge site on the 7th of June by the 15m Meercat workboat “Venetia”, a confirmation of how the PLAT-I platform is lowering the bar in terms of the size of marine assets required to perform operations. Once alongside at Dunstaffnage Marina, the platform has been broken down into road transportable modules in less than a week and is expected to be Canada bound on a container ship by mid-July.