Siemens opens UK tidal centre

Siemens has opened the doors on a new tidal-turbine testing and assembly centre in Bristol, UK.

The 25,000 sq ft facility will be the base for the development of the next-generation drive-trains used in company’s commercial-scale SeaGen device, a 1.2MW prototype of which has been running in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, since 2008.

“Investment in the new assembly and testing facility in Bristol will enable us to make this step to develop next-generation tidal technology as well as larger arrays,” says Siemens Energy Hydro and Ocean Unit chief executive Achim Wörner.

"The UK is a key market for Siemens in further developing this pioneering technology. The UK has the right combination of coastal and tidal factors and market development and a favourable investment environment is supported by the government.”

The twin-rotored, horizontal-axis SeaGen is among the first movers in the industrial tidal power race, with a 99MW farm of the devices on the cards for Brough Ness, off the southern tip of Scotland’s Orkney Islands, and an 8MW array planned for Kyle Rhea, off the Isle of Skye, plus a 10MW development set in the Anglesey Skerries in Wales.

The latter two arrays are now in an “advanced stage of development”, while Brough Ness is expected to be built-out in three phases between 2017 and 2020.

A three-headed SeaGen S machine – which features a buoyant pontoon attached by a twin-bar lifting system and anchor-piled foundation to streamline tow-out and installation – is in line for testing in partnership with Minas Basin Pulp & Power at the Force Centre in Canada’s Bay of Fundy.

UK energy secretary Ed Davey, who attended the Bristol facility’s ribbon-cutting says:  "Wave and tidal power has an important part to play in our low carbon energy mix, with the potential to sustain up to 19,000 jobs in this sector alone by 2035.

"I want to see the sector take the final steps to get these exciting technologies to market, so it's great to see Siemens ramping up their involvement in marine power.”