Simec Atlantis lands €1m to supercharge tidal turbine

Tidal power pacesetter Simec Atlantis Energy (SAE) has landed a €1m ($1.14m) grant from European small- and medium-sized enterprise agency Easme to help fuel its turbine's commercial development programme.

The award, which will finance a two-year cost reduction project starting in January, will underpin plans to upgrade the technology installed at SAE’s flagship 6MW MeyGen array off Scotland so it can be wired into a subsea hub and shared export cable.

Atlantis, which has a renewables portfolio of more than 1GW at various stages of development, is being joined on the project by supply chain partner Asturfeito SAU.

“The [1.5MW] AR1500 turbine installed at the MeyGen project in 2017 marked the first commercial-scale turbine installed in a tidal array,” stated Drew Blaxland, SAE’s director of turbine and engineering services.

“Following this successful deployment and record-breaking operation of the AR1500 turbine we now look to the future and where opportunities to reduce the LCOE [levellised cost of energy] exist. This grant agreement allows us to accelerate one of our key LCOE cost reduction initiatives.”

Asturfeito SAU general manager Ricardo Rodriguez added: “This project represents a great opportunity for Asturfeito to enter a promising renewable energy sector. By providing our experience in subsea, oil & gas and offshore wind from the design stage, and using our capability to manufacture, integrate and test complex assemblies, we can support the development of cost effective turbines.”

SAE is currently fine-tuning plans for serial manufacture of its 2MW AR2000 horizontal axis turbine for future stages of MeyGen, which is ultimately expected to have an installed capacity of almost 400MW, as well as for arrays targeted in markets off the UK, France, Channel Islands, Asia, Australia and Canada.

In November, SAE announced a joint venture with French regional development agency AD Normandie Développement and investment fund Normandie Participations for a “multi-hundred-MW” tidal power plant off the west coast of country, with a view to having the first array of the phased development in operation by 2021, followed by “larger projects” from 2022.