With more and more Current & Tidal Energy Converter (CTEC) technologies and worldwide
opportunities to develop pilot or commercial projects, the renewable energy industry is now moving forward to achieve cost competitive development. Even if the current electricity price is shown as a bottleneck impacting viability of new commercial projects, CTEC projects remain a priority for many countries as currents and tides are seen as predictable sources of energy. As very limited feedback is currently available, the industry is now looking towards the first projects to be on stream to validate economic models initially based on unstable assumptions. This paper aims at demonstrating how reliability techniques such as Reliability, Availability & Maintainability (RAM) assessment can allow overall CTEC supply chain to adjust their economic model, to reach a lower Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and design reliable and safe CTEC farm architectures. By using straight from concept stage an adapted RAM tool coupled with an efficient RAM assessment, it will be possible to ensure design hasbeen conducted effectively with respect to production performance as well as optimized maintenance & repair strategy. Later on, by incorporating on a regular basis operational data coming from industry return of experience, companies will be able to capitalize on it for future projects.
The paper will first give an overview of the CTEC market outlining the main challenges. Then, based on recent projects the authors have been involved with, it will detail the reliability methodology applied to ensure the profitability of such innovative developments. This second section will focus on the key parameters and assumptions to be considered in order to assess production availability of the full CTEC architecture and then LCOE in the most appropriate manner. Finally, after having pointed out the ins and outs of RAM analyses, a case study will be developed to illustrate and quantify the benefits of the proposed approach.