National Renewable Energy Centre tests boost tidal technology

Marine Current Turbines has received data on how its equipment will perform for 18 years thanks to a trials in Northumberland

Andrew Jamieson, chief executive of Narec
Andrew Jamieson, chief executive of Narec

The National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth has helped a tidal turbine company achieve an industry first.

The Siemens-owned Marine Current Turbines (MCT) used a 3MW tidal turbine drive train testing facility at the Northumberland site to complete a multi-axis onshore endurance test programme for its first 1MW powertrain, including gearbox, generator and power equipment.

The technology, destined for deployment in larger offshore tidal turbine arrays, was exposed to the full range of power output and aggressive loadings it would experience subsea, securing performance data equivalent to over 18 years of operation in some of the world’s harshest tidal cycles.

Narec, now part of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, operates world-leading research, development and testing facilities for renewables, while MCT is well known for pioneering the development of the SeaGen S 1.2MW tidal turbine, the world’s first commercial scale tidal current power system at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland

Working together, the technical teams conducted a complete range of tests for the powertrain and associated equipment in a controlled environment, simulating the thrust and oscillating torque of extreme sea conditions - an essential precursor to real-life deployment.

Chief executive of MCT Sven Stoye said: “We are very pleased to announce the successful completion of this significant milestone.

“In demonstrating an equivalent life in excess of 18 years we have completed another industry first. Together with over six years successful deployment of SeaGen in Strangford Lough and over 9GWh of electricity generation, we are confident that the technology planned for the Skerries in 2016 will be world-class.

“We would like to thank the National Renewable Energy Centre for their work and foresight in providing the sector with the testing facility, which has demonstrated its extensive capabilities in this testing programme.”

Tony Quinn, operations director at ORE Catapult, said, “This has been a tremendous learning experience for everyone involved, and has provided important information to aid our knowledge and understanding of the capabilities of the 3MW test facility.”

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