SeaGen tidal device exceeds 1000 hours of operation

Post date: Oct 19, 2009 8:17:50 PM

Prototype tidal energy turbine SeaGen has become the first tidal current or wave energy system in the world to have exceeded 1000 hours of operation, according its developer, Marine Current Turbines.The 1.2MW SeaGen turbine, which is also claimed to be the largest MW scale grid-connected marine renewable energy system in the world, has achieved a capacity factor - the amount of energy a plant produces compared to its maximum rated output - of 66% and so far delivered 800MWh into the National Grid.

The device is in operation in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough.

According to Marine Current Turbines Ltd (MCT), the high capacity factor means that the tidal turbine delivers energy, on average, at the same rate to be expected from a wind turbine of approximately twice the rated power.

Martin Wright, MCT managing director, said: "We are delighted with SeaGen's performance. Passing the 1000 hours mark is a great milestone which not only demonstrates the potential for tidal power, but will also help to reinforce confidence in extracting energy from the seas in the future."

Since starting operation in late 2008, SeaGen's operation has been limited by its licence conditions to daylight hours and it is only since autumn 2009 that SeaGen has operated automatically and without the presence of observers monitoring its impact on marine life on board. This change has allowed a considerable increase in SeaGen's operational hours.

MCT is now preparing SeaGen for more intensive operation and it is hoped to gain consent for continuous 24/7 operation before the summer.

In the next few weeks, MCT also plans to run SeaGen under supervision of specialists from DNV (Det Norsk Veritas), a marine classification society, to obtain independent verification of its performance.

Martin Wright added: "SeaGen is operating as it was designed to do. Crucially, the operational experience and data that we are gaining every day is hugely valuable as we work towards deploying the UK's first tidal farm within the next two years.

"SeaGen is a commercial scale prototype and already we are incorporating into the design of the next machines subtle changes to improve maintainability and reliability which are vital for commercial generation."

Last week, (February 2), MCT secured £2.7m from the Carbon Trust's Marine Renewables Proving Fund to support the company's evaluation and operation of SeaGen as a precursor to the deployment of a tidal farm by MCT in UK waters (see this story).