MCT gets $1.7m UK grant boost

Siemens subsidiary Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has won a £1m ($1.7m) grant from the UK government to advance research and development into new tidal turbine blade designs, and to set up a new serial-production manufacturing facility.

The backing, awarded through the £300m fourth round of Westminster’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) scheme, comes as the developer gears up to build first industrial-scale arrays in the fast-flowing tidal flow off Wales and Scotland.

“MCT was the first mover in tidal technology in the UK and this support will help us to move to the next level of development,” says MCT chief executive Sven Stoye.

“Tidal technology represents a great opportunity for the UK to lead and has the potential to create new jobs and skills in this innovative renewables technology.”

Secretary of state for energy Ed Davey, in Bristol to announce the next RGF funding awards, said: “Tidal power plays an important part in our low carbon energy mix and MCT is a great example of how RGF is helping projects that will create green jobs and growth in the region.”

Siemens' 1.2MW SeaGen tidal-power turbine, running in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough since 2008, recently passed the milestone of generating 5GWh – enough to meet the annual electricity demand of 1,500 households.

The twin-rotor, horizontal-axis machine is at the centre of Siemens’ plans for a 99MW tidal farm in 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 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.

Note: Update amends text to RGF round four