Month: January 2016

A Force of Nature

Tidal Energy Projects around the World

The amount of tidal power being produced today is still quite small, and the potential for growth is massive due to the size of the world’s oceans. People around the world make trips to the ocean, enjoying the beach, watching the tide come in and out, and marvelling at the magnitude of the waves during storms. Yet, many of us do not connect how the movement of tides could help our planet meet our growing energy needs. Canada, the United Kingdom and France are making waves with the development of several large test sites and commercial projects aimed at harnessing ocean tides to produce electricity.

 

Canada

Bordered by three oceans, with over 200,000 km of coastline, Canada’s potential for generating power through tidal, wave, floating wind and hydroelectric energy is excellent. For a country committed to protecting its natural resources, wave and tidal energy exploration is a natural fit as it generates electricity without polluting the environment. Researchers involved in exploring tidal energy potential, want to ensure that placement of tidal turbines will have minimal impact on marine ecosystems, fisheries, and other coastal activities. A core value of the tidal energy industry appears to be to minimize the impact on the environment, both visually and literally.

The predictability of the tides allows tidal power to integrate well into the existing grid infrastructure. Because water is 1,000 times denser than air, tidal plants produce electricity with smaller turbines and at lower flow speeds compared to wind plants.

Map of tidal resources in Canada

 

Canada’s tidal energy landscape includes:

The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE)

Located in the Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy, FORCE is Canada’s leading research centre for in-stream tidal energy (tidal turbines).

FORCE is a shared observation facility with pre-approved berth sites for testing tidal turbines. The site, located roughly 10km west of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, centred in Minas Passage, is roughly 5km wide, and bordered by basalt cliffs. This area is the entrance to the Minas Basin, home to the world’s highest tidal range (16m).

This location was chosen for several reasons;

  • at low tide, it has water depth of roughly 45 meters;
  • a sediment-free bedrock sea floor;
  • straight flowing currents; and
  • flow speeds of greater than 5 meters per second on the flood tide, and only slightly less on the ebb tide.

The facility has been recently equipped with submarine cables, grid connection, and environmental monitoring. Each test turbine must be designed to operate in a range of flow speeds from zero to 11 knots, depending on where the turbine is located within the test area and how deep the turbine is positioned.

It is estimated that tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy have the potential to generate 2,500 megawatts of electricity; enough to support nearly one million homes, with practically zero impact on the height and flow speed of the tides.

Fundy Tidal Inc.

Established in 2006, Fundy’s Tidal focus is small scale tidal energy projects that involve community ownership. Fundy Tidal is currently focused on developing three locations in the Bay of Fundy; Digby Gut(1.95MW), Grand Passage(500kW), and Petit Passage(500kW).

Canadian Hydrokinetic Turbine Test Centre (CHTTC)

The CHTTC was established to create a national hydrokinetic ‘run of river’ test location in which Canadian companies can test turbine systems, located on the Winnipeg River in the community of Seven Sisters. The centre attracts turbine manufacturers, developers, and universities, who are focusing on life-cycle project solutions for fully grid connected systems. The CHTTC provides an invaluable opportunity to understand the operational effects of hydrokinetic devices on the environment and provides information to help inform regulatory decisions for future projects.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Crown has leased roughly 40 tidal and wave energy sites, with a total potential power generation capacity of 3GW.

Map of tidal resources in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s tidal energy landscape includes:

MEYGEN is a partnership between Atlantis Resources and The Company, which was established solely for the development of the Pentland Firth Inner Sound tidal site.

The Inner Sound site separates the north Scottish mainland from Storma Island and was chosen as a commercial site for several reasons;

  • accessibility for grid connection;
  • suitable water depth; and
  • maximum water speeds of up to 5 meters per second.

MeyGen is the largest planned tidal stream energy project in the world, with phase one consisting of four 1.5MW tidal turbines that will be deployed for 25 years.

Once completed the tidal array in Pentland Firth is projected to provide enough electricity to power 175,000 homes and it will eventually see up to 269 turbines on the sea floor.

FAIR HEAD TIDAL is a proposed tidal energy project with the potential to generate 100MW of renewable energy. Located off the east coast of Fair Head in county Antrim, Northern Ireland.

This project is a special purpose vehicle jointly owned by DP Marine Energy Limited and Bluepower NV.

Fair Head Tidal is scheduled to be delivered in two phases, the first being a 10MW demonstration array which is expected to be up and running in 2017. The second phase would complete the proposed 100MW array and would be capable of powering roughly 70,000 homes.

West Islay Tidal Farm is located off the west coast of Islay, which is the fifth largest island in Scotland. The West Islay project is a proposed 400MW tidal stream farm. Spearheaded by DP Energy and in partnership with Bluepower, the current proposal is for 30MW, but will eventually be expanded to the 400MW project as mentioned above.

The West Islay project is scheduled to be deployed in two phases. Phase one, a 6MW demonstration array is set for completion in late 2015/early 2016. The second phase will aim for commercial operation of 30MW in 2016. The remaining capacity will be developed throughout a staged deployment process starting in 2019 and ending in 2024.

France

After the United Kingdom, France has Europe’s second largest tidal energy resources.

Map of tidal energy resources in France

France’s tidal energy landscape includes:

Two tidal farms are planned for the Raz Banchard, near the port of Cherbourg in the Normandy region of France. This area represents roughly 50% of the total French national tidal power generation potential.

The first pilot farm is a partnership between GDF Suez and Alstom.

The second pilot farm for this location is a partnership between EDF, and OpenHydro. This project aims to have seven tidal turbines deployed in 2018 and will have a unit power output of 2MW, supplying electricity to roughly 13,000 local residents.

Fromveus Passage, sometimes called St. Vincents Channel, is a strait that lies between the island of Ushant and Men Tensel Rock off the coast of the French province of Brittany. This project is a partnership between GDF SUEZ and Sabellaand aims to see the between three and ten turbines at project maturity.

Paimpol-Brehat Tidal Farm is another partnership between EDF and Irish company OpenHydro. The Paimpol-Brehat Tidal Farm was initially a demonstration farm off the Île-de-Bréhat near Paimpol, France. 2016 will see the deployment of the first commercial turbine for this farm before years end. This project will eventually consist of four turbines, each capable of generating 2MW.In addition to Canada, The United Kingdom, and France, many countries are considered to be emerging markets for renewable energy.

In 2014 the Ministry of Energy in Chile, Corfo, a Chilean investment and development agency, and DCNS signed an agreement to create a Marine Energy Research and Development Centre in Chile (MERIC). With a roughly 240GW potential for wave energy, the Chilean government is keen to pursue a strong marine renewable energy strategy.

The government of India estimates the country has the potential to generate 8GW of tidal energy with the primary focus being in Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat, the Gulf of Kutch, and the Gangetic Delta. Atlantis Resources and the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL) are currently perusing a 250MW tidal power project in the Gulf of Kutch.

The Japanese Ministry of Environment has made a commitment to focus on renewable energy production. In a recent report, the country estimates their renewable energy output could be tripled from 11.5TW/h to 356.6TW/h by the year 2030. Nagasaki is taking the lead by creating close ties with the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland, leveraging their experience in marine renewables. This relationship will be valuable as Japan progresses in developing their marine energy industry.

Australia, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and the United States are also looking to develop their own marine renewable energy strategies.

Dynamic Systems Analysis (DSA) works extensively with companies in North America and Europe on the design, development and installation analysis of tidal energy converters. Common installation challenges such as assessing moorings, anchor requirements, power umbilical bend radius, and installation methods in sites like the Bay of Fundy are frequently addressed by DSA and users of the numerical modelling platform ProteusDS.

Clean, renewable energy will help us to meet the power demands of the future, and Dynamic Systems Analysis is excited to join with industry leaders from around the world to harness this valuable resource.

Is Blue the New Green?

What is Tidal Energy?

Harnessing the Power of Water

Traditionally the power of water has been harnessed through hydroelectric dams to produce energy. Now, researchers and developers in North America and Europe are working to deploy underwater turbines and wave energy converters to generate clean renewable energy.

Harnessing the power of water can be traced back to the 8th century CE, where the first tide mill was found in Northern Ireland. During high tide, sea water would fill a collection pond through a one-way gate. During low tide the gate would close automatically, and once the tide reached a certain level the stored water would be released to turn a water wheel which was used to crush grain. These early tidal energy converters function similarly to tidal barrages which are still being used to generate electricity to this day.

Today, as in years gone by, the natural rise and fall of coastal waters is still used to transform the energy created by tides into electricity or other forms of power. Sea currents are magnified by the gravitational fields of the earth, moon, and sun pulling the water over geographic features, such as headlands, inlets, and straits. The Bay of Fundy (home to the highest tides in the world), provides an excellent example of the abundant resource that can be used to generate power. In this 270 km ocean bay between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the rise and fall of the tide can be as high as 16 meters. In twelve hours, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy during one tidal cycle, more than four times the flow of all the world’s freshwater rivers over the same time period. The movement of the tides is a significant renewable and predictable source of power.

Three ways to generate tidal energy;

Tidal Streams: A turbine, similar to a wind turbine, is submerged directly in an area of significant tidal change, such as the Bay of Fundy or Pentland Firth in Scotland. Tidal stream generators draw energy from the currents in the same way wind turbines draw energy from air currents. The major benefit of tidal stream generators is that water is 800 times the density of air, meaning more energy can be extracted by a smaller turbine.

 

Tidal Barrages: A dam-like structure is constructed across a bay or river that has significant tidal flow, such as the Annapolis Tidal station in Nova Scotia and the Rance Tidal Power Station in Brittany, France. Turbines are installed within the barrage wall, as the tide rises, gates in the barrage open allowing water to flow though. As the tide lowers these gates close, creating a pool or tidal lagoon – the water is then released through the turbines, generating energy.

Tidal Lagoons: A self-contained structure, similar to a tidal barrage, which partly encloses a body of ocean water by the use of a natural or man-made barrier or breakwater. An example of this is the Swansea Bay project in Wales. As the sea level rises against the breakwater a difference in water level is created, once the desired water level is reached sluice gates are opened and water flows freely into a lagoon and through turbines to generate electricity. This process then occurs in the reserve, on the ebb tide in the same fashion.

Currently, tidal stream generators, often referred to as tidal energy converters or tidal turbines, are the most economical and least ecologically damaging option among the three main forms of tidal power generation. The biggest challenge facing the tidal energy industry is building economical, effective devices that can withstand the extreme ocean conditions they are deployed in.

In areas like the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia and Pentland Firth, Northern Scotland, tidal energy companies are contending with some of the strongest currents in the world. The tides in the Bay of Fundy are semidiurnal (two highs and two lows each day), making it one of the best sites to install tidal turbines, the currents, however, make it extremely difficult to design, anchor/moor and maintain turbines in the bay.

Dynamic Systems Analysis (DSA) works extensively with companies in North America and Europe on the design, development and installation analysis of tidal energy converters. Common installation challenges such as assessing moorings, anchor requirements, power umbilical bend radius, and installation methods in sites like the Bay of Fundy are frequently addressed by DSA and users of the numerical modelling platform ProteusDS.

The video below is a tidal turbine simulation in ProteusDS