Progress Continues on World’s Biggest Tidal Stream Project

by Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg with additional input from Renewable Energy World editors

Simec Atlantis Energy Ltd., a renewable energy developer, announced a plan to extend its tidal stream project in Scotland by adding two new turbines.

The MeyGen facility currently has a capacity of 6 megawatts, and the extension will bring it to 10 megawatts, according to an emailed statement. It’s partially funded by a 16.8 million-euro ($19 million) support package from the European Commission. Atlantis is trying to bring costs down by using bigger rotors, more powerful generators and a single export cable.

This extension “will be an important enabler for the subsequent extension of the MeyGen site by a further 80 megawatts, and ultimately to the full site capacity of 400 megawatts,” said Chief Executive Officer Tim Cornelius. “Nearby sites in the Pentland Firth offer significant further growth potential.”

Atlantis is planning for the MeyGen project eventually to reach capacity of 398 megawatts. The project entered into the U.K.’s renewable energy auction last year. It was unsuccessful in competing against offshore wind, a technology that has seen its costs fall more rapidly than tidal power.

Last year, the company consolidated with Simec, a member of the GFG Alliance run by the Gupta family. They are also working on converting a coal plant in Wales to burn a pellet made from a mix of waste plastic and biomass.

Joint Venture

In addition to the announcement about the two additional turbines, Simec Atlantic Energy also announced a joint venture with Development Agency for Normandy (AD Normandy), the regional agency for economic development in Normandy and regional investment fund Normandie Participations, for the purpose of developing a large-scale project in Raz Blanchard, Normandie. 

The JV, called, Normandie Hydrolienne has been established with the intention of eventually harnessing up to 2 GW of power from the Alderney Race, the eight-mile strait that runs between Alderney and La Hague, France, as well as more than 1 GW of resource from adjacent concessions under the control of the States of Alderney.

The proposed Raz Blanchard project to be developed by Normandie Hydrolienne has aspirations to:

  • Investigate the techno-economic feasibility of a multi-hundred-megawatt tidal energy project to be located in Raz Blanchard initially which could be expanded into an even larger project making use of all of the unexploited resource present in The Alderney Race;
  • Determine if it is possible to deliver energy profitably at a price that is less than the current offshore wind feed in tariff of €150/MWh (for projects to be delivered between 2021-23);
  • Prepare an application for consent to build a multi-hundred-megawatt tidal energy project in Raz Blanchard and work closely with ADEME and all relevant government ministries to obtain all relevant approvals;
  • Seek to build a demonstration array in Raz Blanchard array using AR2000, 2-MW horizontal axis turbines, which will be built in France. The timing of commissioning of the demonstration array will depend on consenting, permitting and financing;
  • Have a full multi-hundred-megawatt array online by 2024 using AR2000 turbines.

Cornelius commented: 

“Raz Blanchard is sitting on a huge amount of renewable, predictable energy and we wish to bring our project development, financing and power production expertise to help the region of Normandie create jobs and attract a substantial amount of investment into the Region.  Our techno-economic feasibility study plans for the delivery of an initial 1GW of operational capacity by 2025, which could be quickly expanded to 2GW by 2027, at a Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) competitive with offshore wind farms currently in construction in France. 

“Raz Blanchard will be delivered in stages to allow the supply chain to grow in line with our expansion plans. We look forward to working with ADEME, RTE, AD Normandy and Normandie Participations to make tidal energy a reality in Normandy.”

Related: France Looking to Become Major Player in Global Marine Energy Market

HydroVision International explores hydropower and marine energy. The event is set to take place in Portland, Oregon, July 23-25, 2019.
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