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What Makes a Good Tidal Energy Project?

Sustainable Marine has teamed up with leading researchers and universities around the world to build extensive expertise across tidal energy engineering, production, project development and business operations.

After a decade of intense work, we have identified several key ingredients which greatly contribute to a successful tidal energy project.

Firstly, a rigorous site evaluation is a very necessary prerequisite before project engagement. Our team has developed extensive site evaluation skills - identifying, analyzing and securing project sites from the UK to Canada and the Philippines before rolling out successful demonstration projects.

A good tidal energy site must display sufficient tidal resource and energy generating capacity, along with accessibility and sound infrastructure.

Our journey has taken us to the The Bay of Fundy, in Nova Scotia, which lays claim to having one of the most extreme tidal ranges in the world - with 115 billion tonnes of water surging in and an out, twice a day - creating a resource from which circa 7GW of power could be extracted.

Sustainable Marine’s ‘next-generation’ 420kW PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform, was officially launched at the site in February 2021. It is now undergoing testing and commissioning in the Grand Passage before engaging in sea trials at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) where currents speed as fast as 2.5 metres per second.

This current project however follows years of forensic testing, development and preparation around the globe. It’s crucial for any good tidal energy project to adopt a gradual, step-by-step phased approach, to rigorously test prototypes in increasingly challenging environments. This maximizes learning opportunities, and provides necessary time to finetune a system, not only to withstand greater natural forces but also ensure proven power output.

We initially launched our first basic platform in 2011, PLAT-O, in Scotland, which could be towed to site outfitted with horizontal-axis turbines and hooked-up to a pre-installed mooring system. Over the years this platform has become increasingly advanced and technically sophisticated following intensive programmes in Connel, Scotland and Grand Passage, Canada. As a result of sustained efforts PLAT-I 6.40 now produces 50pc more power than its predecessor, PLAT-I 4.63, which has been in trials since 2017. When engaged in pathfinder technology, this stage-wise approach plays an important role de-risking a project.

While Nova Scotia benefits from some of the best natural resources in the world to roll out tidal energy tech it also crucially offers first-class infrastructure, supply chains and business support mechanisms to enable a firm like ours thrive. FORCE itself is a world leading research facility geared towards tidal stream technology.

Meanwhile, any successful tidal energy project must also secure an ‘off-taker’ or grid facility nearby, ultimately to put the clean renewable energy to use. PLAT-I 6.40 is set to play a central role in the forthcoming Pempa’q Project - the world’s first floating tidal array – which has been supported by the Canadian Government with a $28.5 million investment – one of the nation’s largest-ever investment in tidal energy.

The overall objective is to light up Nova Scotia’s grid delivering power to homes, vehicles and businesses, while also demonstrating the key advantages of tidal energy in terms of its predictability and reliability. The project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, and create new jobs in Nova Scotia.

Sustainable Marine puts the environment and the welfare of coastal communities at the heart of its operation.

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