October 27, 2011 — Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has achieved a milestone in the deployment of tidal energy technology with confirmation that its prototype tidal turbine, located subsea off the Orkney Islands, Scotland, has successfully generated and fed over 100 MWh of electrical power into the national grid.
As a reliable and predictable energy source, deep water tidal stream power generation could make a valuable contribution to meeting the electricity demands and carbon emissions reduction objectives of many industrialized nations, including the U.K., Canada, Australia and the U.S.
For example, Rolls-Royce tidal technology could generate up to 30 TWh of U.K. electricity, equivalent to around 7.5 per cent of existing U.K. electricity needs or enough to power 3 million homes.
Installed as part of the Deep-Gen III project, co-funded by the U.K. government-backed Technology Strategy Board, the Rolls-Royce prototype tidal turbine is currently deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre's (EMEC) offshore test site off the Orkney Islands, Scotland. It is the first EMEC located project to both receive Renewable Obligation Certificates and to reach 100 MWh of supply to the grid.
The tidal unit's three-bladed turbine is attached by a tripod to the seabed and can operate, fully submerged at water depth of 40 meters. Its innovative design allows the turbine to continually rotate to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle. In addition, the turbine unit is semi-buoyant and can be easily towed to and from the point of operation, minimizing installation and maintenance costs by avoiding the need for specialist vessels.
As part of the Energy Technologies Institute funded ReDAPT (Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal) consortium project, Rolls-Royce is currently building a 1MW tidal turbine demonstration unit that will be deployed in mid-2012 at EMEC in Orkney.
Rolls-Royce is also working with a number of developers in advancing demonstration arrays, systematic arrangements of turbines, which will lead to large scale commercial deployment.