GE Power Conversion has signed up with marine renewables developer Simec Atlantis Energy to accelerate the commercialisation of utility-scale tidal energy generation using the world’s biggest turbine, the 2MW AR2000.
Through the deal — through which the US power technology giant makes a return to the tidal sector after early forays in the early 2010s — the pair will “work together and share resources” on associated systems, including energy storage solutions and a novel subsea connection concept.
The partnership is seen as playing “a key role” in the second phase of the Atlantis’ MeyGen project, known as Project Stroma, off Scotland, where two AR2000 turbines will be added to four already installed via a new underwater hub and linked to the UK National Grid.
“This agreement with GE is a clear demonstration of our commitment to working with industry leading companies to deliver utility scale tidal power,” said Drew Blaxland, director of Atlantis’ turbine and engineering services division.
“As the sole supplier of turbine generation equipment to the second phase of the MeyGen project, partnering with GE unlocks enormous opportunities to build on 10 years of R&D to now deliver more cost-effective, cleaner tidal power solutions for developers around the world.”
Peter Oram, commercial director of GE’s Power Conversion business, added: “Harnessing natural resources like tidal energy, and applying GE’s efficient MV power conversion technologies allows us to turn this abundant source of energy into reliable, predictable power, for the UK and the world.”
Atlantis and GE have been working in partnership since September 2018 on the development and performance validation of the AR2000 system.
Atlantis has been progressing the MeyGen development since 2009, with the ambition of building it out as an up-to-400MW site.
Last December, the company landed a €1m ($1.14m) grant from European small- and medium-sized enterprise agency Easme to help fuel commercial development of the AR2000 and is aiming to build a "multi-hundred MW project" off France by 2021.
GE acquired a 1MW tidal device via its 2015 takeover of Alstom, which had brought the grid-connected unit online at the European Marine Energy Centre’s test site off Orkney, Scotland, two years earlier. But the tidal technology development programme was shelved a few years later.