New Tidal Wave Energy Device Completes Sea Trials
In the continuing quest to harvest efficient, renewable energy from the power of the world’s tides, an organization called Sustainable Marine Energy’s announced that its PLAT-O tidal energy platform has successfully completed its first field trials.
Despite the tremendous power and predictability of the world’s waves and tides, efforts to successfully build and bring to market a device to harness, store and transmit power in an efficient manner have been largely unsuccessful in the commercial sense. In particular the tidal energy industry has struggled with high costs for installation and maintenance, but Sustainable Marine Energy (SME) claims that PLAT-O could be a game changing technology. It uses an innovative platform which is moored under the surface of the water significantly reducing costs.
PLAT-O was launched from the company’s facility in Venture Quays, East Cowes, Isle of Wight and towed to the test site at Yarmouth. Once at the site PLAT-O was submerged to installation depth and a series of tests were run. PLAT-O was then successfully resurfaced and towed back to East Cowes, where it will be prepared for its next series of trials.
The marine operations were run using small vessels, demonstrating that a step change reduction in the cost of installing tidal energy devices can be achieved. The results of the sea trials provide increasing confidence in the potential for tidal streams to provide a commercially viable source of renewable energy.
“We have reached a huge milestone in the development of our solution to address the costs associated with delivering tidal energy,” said Jason Hayman, Managing Director, SME. “Over the next few months we will be ramping up the time that PLAT-O spends at site, and running a series of tests which will culminate in the installation of PLAT-O at a more aggressive tidal site and generating power to the grid.”
Orcades Marine Management Consultants manages the delivery marine operations for SME, and its , Managing Director David Thomson said “The progress that the team at SME has made culminating with this trial installation of PLAT-O should be regarded as a terrific achievement. I have been involved in many tidal installation operations and I have seen first-hand the challenges facing the tidal industry in relation to the cost of operations. It is clear to me that PLAT-O has the opportunity to succeed and provides a viable solution for the tidal energy industry.”
What is PLAT-O?
PLAT-O is a buoyant platform that is taut moored to the seabed using an anchoring solution developed by SME. It sits under the surface of the water at a depth to ensurethat surface vessels can pass safely over top. Apart from a surface marker buoy, the system is not visible on the surface.
PLAT-O is designed to be compatible with most leading tidal turbine technologies and it can be adapted to suit a wide range of configurations. SME has designed the platform with flexibility in mind, to scale up the platform and work with manufacturers of tidal generators to use new technologies as they emerge. The current PLAT-O prototype hosts two Schottel STG50 tidal generators and SME is working with Schottel to deliver a system capable of providing commercially viable tidal energy to island and coastal communities.
Key contributors to the PLAT-O development are:
- PLAT-O build and logistics: BSA Regal Group, PE Composites, South East Hydraulics, Kingswell Haulage, Air Power & Hydraulics.
- Power take-off and control: SCHOTTEL, ASV, Goodwolfe Energy.
- Design and verification: DNV GL, Ultramag Inspection Services, Future Energy Engineering, Offshore Renewable Energy Group - Cranfield University, IFREMER, Dynamic Systems Analysis, QinetiQ Marine Design Software, Adris, Autodesk.
- Anchoring and mooring system: Spencer Rigging, English Braids, Harken UK, EYE Marine, PFEIFER Rope & Tackle, Autoguide Equipment, Rockbit UK, Technical Services Team, Marine South East.
- Marine Operations: Orcades Marine Management Consultants, Williams Shipping, Kingston Marine Services (Cowes Harbour Commission), Andark Diving, Seastar Survey.
- Key stakeholders: Yarmouth Harbour, Royal Yachting Association, Marine Management Organisation, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Natural England, Isle of Wight Council, Royal Solent Yacht Club.