Underwater turbine set to be used for Scottish tidal power

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An underwater turbine that is set to be used in Scotland’s first and only consented tidal-power project has completed initial testing.

The 1MW HS1000 tidal turbine developed by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest was installed in December 2011 and has since been undergoing tests in the tidal waters around Orkney.

According to a statement, the test device in Orkney, which is providing electricity for homes and businesses on the northern Orkney island of Eday, aims to prove that the technology can operate efficiently in Scotland’s fast-flowing tides, that monitoring and maintenance operations can be honed and to help reduce costs in operations and installation.

Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) plans to use this technology as part of the world’s first tidal turbine array in the Sound of Islay. The company’s plans to develop a 10MW tidal array in Islay received planning consent from the Scottish government in March 2011. 

Keith Anderson, chief executive officer of Scottish Power Renewables, said: ‘The performance of the first HS1000 device has given us great confidence so far.

‘Engineers were able to install the device during atrocious weather conditions and it has been operating to a very high standard ever since.

‘We have already greatly developed our understanding of tidal-power generation and this gives us confidence ahead of implementing larger-scale projects in Islay and the Pentland Firth.’ 

Said to be seen as one of the world’s most advanced tidal turbine designs, a prototype device has been generating electricity in Norway for more than six years. The design is based on a mixture of technology used in traditional onshore wind turbines, subsea oil and gas production and in hydro-power plants. 

Stein Atle Andersen, managing director of Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, said: ‘The 1MW pre-commercial device is an important step in our staged strategy for developing reliable and cost-efficient tidal energy converting devices and power plants.

‘The tests being carried out so far have confirmed the design basis for the technology and given comfort concerning the device’s capacity.

‘We are still early in the testing programme with endurance, availability and reliability being the most imminent factors for asserting a proper basis for developing commercial tidal-energy power plants. However, we are already well into design engineering for the first power plant.’