Alstom tidal turbine reaches 1 MW in offshore conditions

Alstom's full-scale tidal turbine in the waters of Orkney, Scotland, has reached its full nominal power of 1 MW after a series of gradual power increases.

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Alstom (Levallois-Perret, France) reports that its full-scale tidal turbine in Orkney, Scotland, has reached a full nominal power of 1 MW after a series of gradual increases in power. The turbine was immersed in January 2013 at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. The turbine connected to the grid has now generated more than 10 MWh of electricity, in actual operating conditions. Both are major milestones in the development of the tidal stream energy.

The tidal turbine has been tested in different operational conditions through the ReDAPT1 testing program. It has shown a reliability and performance in line with its design models. The next step of the testing program will be to demonstrate the full range of autonomous running capabilities of the turbine (its ability to efficiently operate independently), continue with the planned maintenance and gather evidence for certification. The endurance and reliability will also be tested into 2014. Tests in pilot farms will follow prior to the start of full commercial production.

“We are enthusiastic following the initial tests of our tidal stream turbine which successfully demonstrated the advantages of Alstom tidal turbine technology in the challenging environment of the Fall of Warness in Orkney,” says Alstom Ocean business vice ­president Rob Stevenson.

Alstom’s tidal turbine has a 22m/72-ft -long nacelle and weighs 150 tonnes. Its rotor has three pitchable blades and a diameter of 18m/59 ft. The tidal turbine is capable of floating. Buoyancy enables the turbine nacelle to be easily towed to and from the point of operation and attached to its pre­installed foundation. Avoiding the need for specialist vessels and divers, this particular technical feature minimises installation and maintenance costs and reduces the timeframe to install or retrieve the turbine. The unit operates fully submerged with no surface-piercing part, in a water depth of about 40m/131 ft. The nacelle can rotate around a vertical axis to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle, and thus extract the maximum energy potential.