The Tidal Energy Converter Cost Reduction via Power Take Off Optimisation (TIDAL-EC) project consists of research and development activities aimed at improving the overall economic competitiveness of in-stream tidal power generation. The largest and most critical component of a Tidal Energy Converter (TEC) is the Power Take-Off (PTO) system and includes the shaft, bearings, gearbox and any other equipment that connects the hydrodynamic absorber (blades) with the electrical grid (including the power converter and the electrical generator itself).
The TIDAL-EC project investigated designs and testing work previously undertaken by the SME partners involved in technology development across the tidal energy supply chain. Three are TEC OEM manufacturers (TOCARDO, OCEANFLOW & MINESTO) and one is a sensor supplier (FIBERSENSING - tier 2). The world leading European research institutions (ORE Catapult, SINTEF and UEDIN) provided access to their facilities and knowledge required to optimise the respective TEC PTOs for the improvement of reliability, increased efficiency and reduced LCOE. The RTD performing partners provided access to the 1MW drive train test rig (ORE CATAPULT), an advanced analysis model (SINTEF) and a state of the art Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) and PTO/generator loss/reliability model (UEDIN) of the system. A summary of the interaction between the partners and end customers can be seen in Figure 1 below.
As a result, the project consortium facilitated improved reliability, increased power conversion efficiency, a reduction in the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE), and a reduction in the total cost per kWh of power produced. Improvements factored in design, build and lifecycle costs such as the cost of maintenance, operations and decommissioning of tidal power. The results of this project will give SME tidal developers (and their SME suppliers) greater confidence to offer warranties and guarantees to end-users/customers (European Energy Utilities).