Even though there are lots of renewable energy sources available, tidal and wave power has been getting very little attention and investments compared to others. Mainly because the risk of energy generating technology needs to operate in the brutal environment of the sea. The wear and tear, the corrosive nature of saltwater are too high-maintenance for it to be easy to sustain.
The question is, why do we keep trying? Because the potential energy that can be drawn from these sources could power the world easily if only technologies are successfully developed.Majority of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of a coast, which means that the idea ofa floating tidal stream turbine could really be the answer to one of the best choices in obtaining sustainable electricity.
There’s an on-going tidal power project called FloTEC and they believe that it has solved a lot of problems that have been facing the industry for years. Its pilot SR2000 turbine is considered the most powerful tidal stream turbine up to date. So far, it has finished an entire year at sea and is continuously generating electricity.
“The SR2000’s phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry,” statedAndrew Scott, CEO of project coordinator Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd, on the FloTECwebsite. “Despite being an R&D project, and it being our first full-scale turbine, its first year of testing has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewabletechnologies.”
The project leaders have a goal of tidal power systems that are low cost, low maintenance and reliable all at the same time. The SR2000 turbine has proven that this is in fact achievable. While the 2-MW turbine is stationed off the Orkney Islands since 2018, it has generated about 3 GWh of energy. That is equivalent to the annual electricity of 830 British households. In fact, that is more powerful than what has been produced by all wave and tidal energy projects in Scotland.
The SR2000 looks like a large yellow submarine and it was able to weather through the harsh fall and winter storms in the area. It has even withstood the waves over 7 meters high. According to the team, the improved performance was all thanks to the robust rotors that were able to generate energy at lower speeds despite the tidal systems.
“The SR2000 has completed the job of demonstrating that we have a breakthrough technologyand we will now be shifting all our focus and resources towards building on that success with a product which we are confident can enable a new industry created around a predictablerenewable energy source.” Andrew Scott said.
Despite the idea that the tidal turbine project will be high maintenance, the FloTEC project has kept the costs down because SR2000 was low maintenance because it uses inexpensive rigid inflatable boats that keep the outages to a minimum. The crew has plans in constructing a 2 MW
commercial version of the SR2000, soon after this year’s successful pilot. By the end of the year,it should be ready and tested off the waters of Orkney before it hits the market.