Renewable energy is now accepted as the preferred alternative for electricity generation and as the replacement for fossil fuels. In recent years, tidal energy has shown promise as it is a more reliable source of renewable energy, compared to wind and solar, and 12 GWh of electricity from tidal energy was generated in 2020. As tidal technologies move closer to commercial viability, key components need to be optimised, tested and certified. Among the key components that need to be type-certified for tidal energy are the turbine blades.
In this study, a full-scale fibre-reinforced composite blade for use on 1 MW power generating nacelles of a tidal turbine was developed through numerical modelling, advanced manufacture technologies and state-of-the-art structural testing techniques. As a result of the high loads and harsh environment that a tidal turbine operates in, the blades have been manufactured using glass fibre reinforced powder epoxy and underwent an advanced structural testing programme that proved its structural integrity, where the results were used to validate the outputs from the numerical model of the blade. The load of 1,008 kN applied to the blade during the static testing was the highest load ever reported on a tidal turbine blade and this is the first time a large composite tidal blade has its equivalent design life of 20+ years through structural fatigue testing at full-scale.