Spain Enters Commercialization of Tidal Energy with US$1.2 Million ATIR Prototype

Competition in the commercialization of tidal energy has a Spanish entrant. Magallanes Renovables SL (MRSL), based in Redondela, Galicia, Spain, deployed its US$1.2 million prototype ATIR floating turbine in sea trials, Nov. 28, at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland.

MRSL is the only company based in Spain that has researched, developed and deployed equipment that produces electricity generated from tidal energy.

Deployed on the Shapinsay Sound test site at EMEC, the ATIR prototype platform is 6 meters long and 2.3 meters wide. Researchers think knowledge gained from the 1:10 scale prototype will be crucial in the construction and deployment of a much larger floating platform that will be 42 meters long, 25 meters wide and 350 tons in weight.

The prototype’s two rotors will each produce 1 MW of energy from its trimaran design, resulting in an annual production of 86 GW. The ATIR captures energy from ocean currents via submerged three-bladed rotors that rotate in opposite directions. Through on-board generators, blade movement is converted into electricity.

Final figures for the research are not immediately available, but the Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network (Marinet), European Commission (EU), government agencies in Spain and private sources are financing the Maganalles project.

MRSL began doing business in 2007, in part, to develop technologies able to harness renewable energy along the more than 8,000 km of Spanish coastline. The company is named after its founder and chief operating officer, Alejandro Marques de Magallanes. Maganalles said the company has worked for years in order to arrive at the ATIR design.

According to Maganalles, “most of the marine energy projects [in Spain] are devoted to wave energy, but we cannot forget the great potential of the existing resource for the harnessing of tidal current energy, for example in the area of the Strait of Gibraltar.”

Construction of the full-scale ATIR is set to begin after EMEC trials, according to published reports.

“This test project allows us to demonstrate the integrity and viability of the concept and its subsystems in a real sea climate, and help inform the construction of our 2 MW floating platform to ensure a stable and optimal design,” said Maganalles in a press release from the EMEC. “One of the most important steps [is] to discover maintenance needs, as well as gaining operational experience at sea.”

Marinet was formed to accelerate the development of marine renewable energy by bringing together world-class testing facilities to offer EU-funded testing. The aim of Marinet is to progress research and development at all scales – from small models and laboratory tests through to prototype scales and open sea trials, according to the release. EMEC is a partner in the initiative, which has brought together 28 partners spanning 12 countries and offers access to 42 marine testing facilities.

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Gregory B. Poindexter, MA, serves an associate editor for PennWell Hydro Group, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Poindexter has been a full-time journalist since 2005. Prior to joining PennWell, Poindexter owned and operated a communications company that produces organizational imagery. He holds a master's degree in mass communications from Oklahoma State University

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