In September 2012, Alstom announced that it had agreed to acquire TGL, which specialises in the design and manufacturing of tidal stream turbines, subject to the achievement of critical milestones including the successful installation of the 1MW tidal turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) full-scale tidal test site in Orkney, Scotland.
On 24 January 2013, TGL, now rebranded Alstom successfully installed the 1MW tidal turbine on the same tripod support structure used to deploy the previously tested 500kW device.
As part of the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) commissioned and co-funded ReDAPT (Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal) consortium project, the 1MW tidal turbine will be tested in different operational conditions off Orkney over an 18 month period. Detailed environmental information and real life sea performance data will be generated in order to further improve tidal power technology and to reach a commercial scale. The next step is to install pilot arrays prior to full commercial production.
“Together, Alstom, the ETI and the ReDAPT partners are accelerating the development of tidal technology helping to position it, as a new more affordable, secure and sustainable source of energy." said Dr David Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Technologies Institute.
“This new milestone installation in the development of tidal power generation technology is a step further towards the commercialisation of this new power solution. The aim of this project is also to demonstrate a new, efficient and reliable turbine design," added Jacques Jamart, Senior Vice President Alstom New Energies.
With a rotor diameter of 18m, a 22m long nacelle and a weight of 150 tonnes, the tidal turbine has three pitchable blades. Buoyancy enables the turbine nacelle to be easily towed to and from the point of operation. This minimises installation and maintenance costs by avoiding the need for specialist vessels and divers and reduces the timeframe to install or retrieve the turbine. The unit operates, fully submerged at a water depth of 40m, by rotating to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle, to extract the maximum energy potential.