Construction of a 250kW Tidal Turbine Begins - 17 July 2010

Local company Scotrenewables (Marine Power) Ltd, have made considerable progress in the development of their floating tidal energy device, by signing a contract with Harland & Wolff shipyard to construct a full-scale prototype of the Scotrenewables Tidal Turbine.  Work on the SR250 tidal turbine has already begun with installation at the European Marine Energy Centre scheduled for March 2011.  Speaking at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen, Project Leader Mark Hamilton said he was pleased with the progress so far and was looking forward to seeing the full-scale device in Orkney waters. “This stage of the project is particularly exciting as after years of successful numerical and physical model testing and development we have now placed an order for the full-scale device. This is a great achievement for us and is testament to the hard work and dedication of all the team. There is a lot of hard work left to do in proving the long-term viability of our technology, but testing to date has produced very promising results. The market for our technology both in the UK and worldwide is huge – we aim to be at the forefront of the future tidal energy industry.”

This marks the end of a long phase of scale model testing, which began several years ago, using a number of scale model versions of the device. A 1/40th, 1/20th and 1/7th scale model have been tested in laboratory conditions whilst latterly a larger 1/5th scale model has been tested in Burra Sound between Hoy and Graemsay. This phase of testing was a steep learning curve for the team providing the crucial experience of operating a tidal turbine in Orkney’s open sea conditions. Mechanical Engineer William Annal explained “our aim is to produce a device which incorporates survivability with easy accessibility for ease of maintenance. Testing the 1/5th scale device in Orkney’s waters gave us valuable information that has allowed us to cost effectively learn from our mistakes, and improve the design to a point where we feel ready to deploy a full-scale device”. The development of the full scale prototype has been greatly progressed as a result of this stage-by-stage testing programme, allowing the team to put their installation methods and technology into practice.  Jonathan Meason Lead Structural Engineer “It has always been our approach to come up with smart but simple solutions to the many challenges involved in this industry. There has to be a realistic approach in order to achieve our end goal - a commercially viable product; It’s all about being cost effective.”

In order for the project to succeed, the team at Scotrenewables (Marine Power) Ltd have stressed the importance of a staged development plan. Trevor Walls, Lead Electrical Engineer explained “we felt that moving from a 1/5th scale model straight to a 1MW full-scale prototype was too big a leap. In order to maximise our chances of success, we have opted to move forward in the first instance with a 250KW full-scale prototype. The SR250 will weigh around 80 tonnes and will measure around 30m in length with twin 8m diameter rotors, giving our system a very competitive power to weight ratio”. Having used local fabrication firms for the construction of their 1/5th scale prototype, Scotrenewables will now use Harland & Wolff shipyard to construct the SR250, due to its size. However, local services will be utilised as far as possible once the initial construction of the Tidal Turbine has been completed. It is hoped that this key phase in the project will pave the way for the development of a fully commercial tidal turbine.

Founder Barry Johnston added, “Over the years we have had a number challenges to overcome with this project and I’m delighted that things are progressing well.  We are competing with hundreds of other companies from all over the world for funding to allow us to continue our research and development and advance our design and I’m very proud that a Company from Orkney that started in my parent’s garage with a simple idea has been able to get to this stage of development.   It has been no easy journey as all of our staff will tell you and it is a great credit to them all as few people have the courage, dedication and ability to innovate in order to make a real difference.  We still have a long and challenging road ahead of us but well done to everyone involved in the Company this is a great milestone and I hope for Orkney, in terms of job creation and economic development, that marine renewables is a success in the future”.