Landmark for Alstom 1MW tidal pilot

Alstom’s 1MW tidal turbine prototype has reached full nameplate power at the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) in Scotland while passing a production milestone of generating 10MWh of electricity on to the grid.

The machine, acquired through the company’s takeover of designer Tidal Generation from Rolls-Royce, is the scaled-up version of a 500kW model previously put through its paces at Emec under the UK Energy Technologies Institute’s (ETI) ReDAPT (Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal) project.

“We are enthusiastic following the initial tests of our tidal stream turbine which successfully demonstrated the advantages of Alstom tidal turbine technology, in the challenging environment of the Fall of Warness in Orkney”, says Alstom Ocean business vice-president Rob Stevenson.

Alstom’s tidal turbine uses a three-bladed, pitch-controlled 18-metre-diameter rotor to turn a standard drivetrain and generator set within a 22-metre-long nacelle.

The buoyant 150-tonne nacelle, which is installed onto a separate seabed-mounted foundation allowing for easy installation and retrieval in a single tidal cycle using small vessels, is designed to “intelligently” weathervane with the tidal flow in waters of some 40 metres using a set of thrusters.

The next step in Alstom’s testing programme will be to demonstrate the turbine’s ability to run autonomously.  Endurance and reliability will also be tested into 2014, followed by tests in pilot farms prior to the start of full commercial production.