Carbon Trust in offshore investment

The Carbon Trust is investing £400,000 to investigate ways that could make marine energy devices easier to deploy at sea.

Working with Pelamis Wave Power and Marine Current Turbines, the projects will focus on installation and maintenance, which currently account for up to 50 per cent of the project costs of wave and tidal energy and could delay more widespread deployment if not reduced.

Reliably moving a 180m Pelamis electricity-generating ‘sea snake’ onto a mooring many kilometres offshore is a task that highlights the challenges of making marine energy a commercially viable method of generating renewable energy.

The Carbon Trust and Pelamis Wave Power are investigating the possibility of using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that will assist with manoeuvring these giant machines into position. They will also integrate remote control technology into existing systems, which will enable deployment in rougher seas.

The development promises to significantly reduce vessel and equipment requirements and make installation and maintenance quicker, cheaper and safer, thereby reducing the overall cost of the energy generated.

Alongside work with Pelamis Wave Power, the Carbon Trust is supporting a project with Marine Current Turbines to develop a way to deploy its pioneering SeaGen tidal energy system.

The new method will involve using a remotely operated subsea drilling platform to install foundation piles in advance of the main turbine support structure being deployed. This would enable smaller and less expensive support vessels to be used for the offshore works, reducing the costs of turbine installation.

Carbon Trust is providing £250,000 for the Pelamis project and a further £150,000 for a feasibility study on the MCT foundations technology. The MCT technology is likely to be tested in a disused quarry, and if it performs as expected will be used in SeaGen’s next deployment off Anglesey where the company is working with RWE npower renewables to deploy a 10MW tidal farm, using seven SeaGens.