Alstom and Iberdrola (through its subsidiary ScottishPower Renewables) have signed a memorandum of understanding to include Alstom tidal-energy turbines in the tidal power project under development in the Strait of Islay (Scotland).
This project , located in the sea channel that separates the islands of Jura and Islay, off the west coast of Scotland , will include up to four 1 MW Alstom turbines. One of these turbines is already being tested in the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney . Once in operation, the Strait of Islay’s project will become the world’s largest tidal energy park, with an installed capacity of 10 MW.
Simon Christian, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, said that “the participation of Alstom in the Islay project will boost the development of the marine energy sector and encourage the development of key technologies and their implementation on an industrial scale “.
Project’s construction program
The Islay project construction program provides for the installation of the first turbines in late 2015 with commissioning in 2016. The project’s lifespan is 25 years and its learning curve will allow to verify factors such as maintenance of the devices and the implementation of systems to analyze their performance, key steps for developing the technology on the large- scale. In fact, Iberdrola plans to implement a tidal power plant of 96 megawatts (MW) in Duncansby, in the waters of the north coast of Caithness, also in Scotland.
Rob Stevenson development director of Alstom Marine Division stressed for his part, that the Islay project is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technology : “The potential of marine energy in the UK is huge and we have devices that will allow our customers to exploit this resource. ”
In July 2010, ScottishPower Renewables submitted the application for the construction of the tidal power plant pilot project in the Strait of Islay and in March 2011 a permit to install a maximum capacity of 10 MW was issued. The Strait of Islay, sheltered from the storms and rough waves, boasts powerful ocean currents and grid connectivity capacity.
Alstom’s tidal-energy turbine consists of an 18 meters diameter three-bladed rotor, a drive train and power electronics. The nacelle, with 22 meters length and less than 150 tons weigh, is harnessed to a foundation anchored to the seabed. Among Alstom’s device’s features noteworthy are, first, its simplicity and ease of transport. Its buoyancy also allows installation and removal in one single tidal cycle, which reduces installation and maintenance costs. The nacelle is intelligent, ie it can rotate on its axis as a function of the tide’s direction, managing the high and low tides independently and maximizing energy production. The blades design allows changing their position to control the turbine load and optimize the ocean current conditions at the site.