Marine Current Turbines will start generating electricity from its tidal turbine in Strangford Narrows, Northern Ireland, next week.
The 1.2MW twin rotors have been thoroughly tested for two months and are now ready to start feeding power into the Northern Ireland Grid. They will operate for between 18 and 20 hours a day and should produce enough clean electricity to power 1000 homes. Marine Current (MC) claims this is four times greater than any other tidal stream project to date.
The project involved bringing in bespoke components from a raft of suppliers based in the UK and Europe. But it was not without obstacles. MC was facing a delay of two years when it could not secure a suitable vessel for securing the turbines to the seabed.
As Angela Robotham, engineering director at MC, explains, demand for ships to secure wind turbines was such that the company could either delay installation until a ship became available, or completely redesign the seabed connection system in order to use a sea crane instead. MC chose to redesign, which took less than five months largely due to the effective use of digital prototyping using a CAD system from AutoDesk. As Ms Robotham says: “It simply would not have been possible to do what was effectively a complete redesign in such a timescale without the use of digital prototyping”.
In February of this year, MC announced joint initiative with nPower renewables to develop a 10.5MW project using several turbines off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales, which should be commissioned around 2011/12.