Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd (NREL) has successfully completed a series of rigorous in-water tests on the multi-million pound full-scale demonstrator of its Proteus NP1000 tidal stream power generator – the final hurdle before its commercial deployment in the Humber Estuary at Hull, England.


A key landmark in the testing process was the powering-up and generation of electricity as proof of the commercial potential of the device’s power curve.

Tow testing was carried out in three phases during August, September and October in Hull’s Albert Dock, following the NREL-designed Proteus’ arrival by barge in July from a North East shipyard. The third set of experiments provided the final, critical, ‘proof of concept’ hurdle and means that the pioneering device will now be prepared for commercial operation in early 2011 at Sammy’s Point in the Humber. The electricity generated will be used to power The Deep Submarium to further develop its ‘green-energy’ operations.

Weighing more than 150 tonnes and 20m in length with a beam of 14m, the Proteus NP1000 consists of steel buoyancy hulls, a vertically mounted turbine with a 6m x 6m rotor, and computer controlled flow vanes within a Venturi duct. When deployed, despite its size, the floating pontoon design means that it is largely unobtrusive, compared to many other energy generation techniques, with more than 80 per cent of its bulk always hidden from view under the water. This low environmental footprint has now been approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. When optimised for the tidal stream off The Deep, Neptune’s engineers believe, based on the dock test data, that the Proteus NP1000 will be able generate at least 1000MWh/year.

“We are delighted to have successfully come through the in-water testing phase for the Proteus Demonstrator which paves the way for the device to be commissioned shortly and installed close to The Deep,” commented NREL Chairman Nigel Petrie. “We are now confident that the first electricity can be delivered to the Submarium early in 2011. This is the culmination of five years of intensive efforts by Neptune and our partners and is a real first for the region, as we will be the only company to have a full-scale, commercially viable, tidal stream power plant up and running in the Humber.”

Having reached this key milestone, Neptune is now seeking a trade partner with the capability to fabricate and build the Neptune production devices. Potential partners should possess strong, large scale fabrication and assembly skills, using steel, composite and plastic materials, possibly also with experience in the marine sector. Following on from this, Neptune will also be looking for equity providers to work with in order to build arrays of the tidal stream power generators which are planned for the Humber in 2011 and 2012.


Neptune Proteus undergoing in-water tests

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