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Giant UK tidal turbine moves to major testing site

Testing and supply chain investment plan for 22m turbine revealed

Atlantis is taking its AR1000 tidal turbine to the next stage of testing
Atlantis is taking its AR1000 tidal turbine to the next stage of testing and development

With shareholders committing to fund further technology development in 2012, Atlantis Resources Corporation is moving its AR1000 tidal turbine testing programme to the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, Northumberland in the UK.

The 1MW capacity, three-blade turbine stands 22.5m high and has an 18m rotor diameter, making it one of the largest marine turbines ever built.
Atlantis chief executive Tim Cornelius, said: “It will allow us to get valuable contiguous hours of operation under controlled and monitored conditions.”

Atlantis also plans to award some of its largest contracts to date to help develop its technology, collect additional field data and improve modelling techniques.

“We will also invest in the tidal energy supply chain, from more complex resource analysis and array interaction research through to drive train and cable management system design, nacelle monitoring, control and intervention technologies, coating technologies and subsea connection,” says Cornelius.

The company’s AR1000 nacelle was retrieved from its test berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney in November, following open ocean testing.

The ocean tests achieved “material progress in offshore subsea connection operations, turbine energisation, structural loading data and converter synchronisation to the Scottish grid”, says Atlantis. Some developmental engineering issues came to light in the autumn, however, after the turbine was commissioned.

This included the identification of a non-redundant medium voltage component within the AR1000 circuit which prevented further production of electricity to the grid. “Crucially, the medium voltage system functioned as intended and no fault levels were transposed to the external power export system at EMEC,” it adds.

Lockheed Martin is conducting a design analysis of the system, which is likely to lead to some design amendments and system upgrades. Atlantis will then ship the unit to Blyth ahead of the spring opening of Narec’s 3MW capacity turbine drive train testing facility.

At Narec, testing will focus on nacelle efficiency, control system validation and thermal analysis of major nacelle components, as well as the system integrity of the modifications. Narec’s controlled environment will allow Atlantis to “focus on the most demanding operating conditions and accrue more data in a shorter period of time”, the firm adds. Upon completion, the turbine will return to EMEC where Atlantis holds a berth until 2015.