US power technology giant GE and renewable energy developer Simec Atlantis Energy have finalised terms of a partnership to develop commercial-scale tidal power around world, leading off with the next stage of the pioneering 400MW MeyGen project off Scotland.
Through the tie-up, the pair’s first focus will be on progressing the 6MW Stroma project in the Pentland Firth using 2MW Atlantis AR2000 devices outfitted with GE’s Power Conversion generators and power converters.
But the two companies said the agreement also “marks [the start of] a long-term relationship and should enable both companies to promote their technologies leading to full-scale arrays installation that is set to harness marine energy at commercial scale”, a market estimated at 300TW.
“This is a major step forward towards large-scale tidal energy production, which makes the MeyGen tidal stream application a pathfinder for the future of tidal energy for the UK and around the world,” said GE Power Conversion industry, power, water and wind CEO Gagan Sood.
“There is in total 300,000GW [300TW] of untapped tidal energy hidden under the waters — a potential that is simply too big to be ignored. Breaking through the barriers of innovation within marine power, the pioneering MeyGen project is a prime example of what advanced technology could deliver.”
MeyGen, the world’s only commercial multi-turbine array in production, has been generating to the grid for over a year.
Drew Blaxland, Atlantis’ director of turbine and engineering services, stated: “We strongly believe that the project has the potential to provide home-grown transformation of the UK energy market and will redefine what the world can expect from renewable tidal energy.”
Atlantis and GE have been working in partnership since September 2018 on the development and performance validation of the AR2000 system.
Atlantis has been progressing the MeyGen development since 2009, with the ambition of building it out as an up-to-400MW site.
Last December, the company landed a €1m ($1.14m) grant from European small- and medium-sized enterprise agency Easme to help fuel commercial development of the AR2000 and is aiming to build a "multi-hundred MW project" off France by 2021.
GE acquired a 1MW tidal device via its 2015 takeover of Alstom, which had brought the grid-connected unit online at the European Marine Energy Centre’s test site off Orkney, Scotland, two years earlier. But the tidal technology development programme was shelved a few years later.