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Alstom’s full-scale tidal device installed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland, has now injected over 100MWh of electricity into the grid. This is a major milestone in the development of Alstom’s tidal stream device which follows the earlier connection of the turbine to the grid and the progressive ramp up to full nominal power of 1MW over the past months.
The latest technical milestone is part of the ReDAPT1 testing program which aims at demonstrating the performance of the machine in different operational conditions. Alstom’s tidal technology has technical characteristics2 which allow to minimise installation and maintenance costs: the buoyancy of the turbine enables the nacelle to be easily towed to and from the point of operation and attached to its pre-installed foundation. The nacelle rotates around a vertical axis to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle. In addition, the turbine features three pitchable blades which are orientated automatically to extract the maximum energy potential. Both of these features allow the turbine to increase its efficiency while it faces the stream. This reduces the time and costs needed to install or retrieve the turbine and avoids the need for specialist vessels and divers.
Tests will continue at Orkney in different operational conditions into 2014, to demonstrate further autonomous running capabilities and efficiency of the turbine while generating electricity to the grid. These testing campaigns will be followed by other tests including deployment in pilot farms before the start of full commercial production.