A Scottish tidal turbine has generated more power over the past year than the entire wave and tidal energy sectors in Scotland in the 12 years prior to its launch in 2016.
Scotrenewables’ 2MW SR2000 unit clocked up more than 3GWh of renewable electricity in its first year of testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, the company said.
The SR2000 is described as the “world’s most powerful operating tidal stream” and has, at times, supplied over a quarter of the electricity demand of the Orkney Islands.
In 12 months of continuous operation, including during the “worst winter storms in recent years” the unit supplied the equivalent annual electricity demand of 830 UK households.
Andrew Scott, chief executive of Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said: “The SR2000’s phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry.
“Despite being a R&D [research and development] project, and it being our first full scale turbine, its first year of testing at EMEC has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewable technologies.
“The ability to easily access the SR2000 for routine maintenance has been a significant factor in our ability to generate electricity at such levels over the past 12 months, including over winter. In addition, accessing the SR2000 using ‘RIBs’ [rigid-inflatable boats] and other similar types of low-cost vessel means that our operating costs and outage times are kept to a minimum.”
Scotrenewables Tidal Power plans to start building a 2MW commercial production unit later this year, with support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 scheme – an EU research and innovation programme.
This unit will also go to Orkney for testing before the company targets sales of the turbine.
Scott criticised the UK government’s policy and “lack of market support” for tidal technology.
He said: “We are dismayed that there is a total lack of market support here in the UK for our technology, and we have no option but to focus our business on overseas opportunities.”
The team at Scotrenewables believes that the power generation results, combined with Meygen’s generation of more than 8GWh over the past year from four tidal turbines deployed in the Pentland Firth, is “convincing evidence” of tidal power’s market readiness.
In May 2018, a report from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult said that the tidal stream industry could generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK of £1.4 billion, supporting nearly 4,000 jobs by 2030.
The UK government revealed in June that it will not back plans for Swansea’s pioneering tidal lagoon power plant based on figures showing that nuclear and offshore wind can generate the same amount of electricity at a third of the cost.