Unique assessment advances commercial viability of tidal energy | Black & Veatch

MeyGen Lessons Learnt Report

Unique assessment advances commercial viability of tidal energy

Project Name
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Tidal stream energy could theoretically supply more than 150 terawatt hours per annum globally. This represents a potential total global market of up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity.

Tidal stream energy is a significant renewable energy source because, although it varies, the power output is highly predictable. As a result, it can help to balance supply and demand as part of a balanced energy mix alongside other renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

The technology is still maturing but has made a further step towards commercial viability following the most comprehensive lifecycle assessment to-date of a megawatt-scale array. The assessment, authored by Black & Veatch’s UK marine energy team, shares lessons learnt during the planning, design, delivery and initial operation of MeyGen’s Phase 1A 6-megawatt (MW) array in Scotland’s Pentland Firth.

Knowledge sharing

Phase 1A of the MeyGen project was partly funded through a £10 million grant from the UK government’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy; with a requirement that lessons learnt from the project were collated and shared in a free-to-access report.

Making the MeyGen Phase 1A report publicly available will help the technology’s maturation by further de-risking the development of future tidal energy projects.

“The assessment offers valuable lessons for everyone involved in developing tidal-stream energy as a viable source of power,” according to Tim Baker, Black & Veatch Marine Energy Director, Europe. “At each point in the asset’s lifecycle the report identifies where efficiencies, cost savings, economies of scale and improvements can be achieved. Crucially, the assessment also shares safer ways of working in the potentially high-risk marine environment.”

Array-scale operation

MeyGen Phase 1A, a 6 MW demonstration array comprised of four 1.5MW tidal turbines, entered its 25-year operations phase in April 2018. The array had successfully exported 21 gigawatt hours to the grid by spring 2020, with an average turbine availability of circa 95 percent during its operational phase. The assessment explains what worked well, what was less successful, and – based on this knowledge – makes recommendations to enhance the success of future projects.

Regions with significant tidal stream energy resources include: Bay of Fundy, Canada; UK; France; China, South Korea and Indonesia. In the USA the southern coastline of Alaska; sections of the north-eastern coast, especially Maine and Massachusetts; and Puget Sound in Washington also possess tidal stream energy resources.

To read the report’s key findings, click here.

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