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Underwater turbine installation marks major milestone for marine energy

Turbine installation brings plan forward for world first tidal array in Scotland

A 100ft underwater turbine that will be part of the world’s first tidal power array has been successfully deployed in the sea around Orkney, Scotland. The 1MW Hammerfest Strom HS1000 device can power the annual electricity needs of 500 homes. It is the same machine that will be used by ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) as part of the world’s first tidal turbine array, which will be deployed in the Sound of Islay, a narrow strait off the west coast of Scotland.

The HS1000 device is best described as an underwater wind turbine, but with shorter blades that rotate slower. The energy is converted in both current directions by pitching the blades. The structure is designed as a tripod, which gives a minimal footprint on the seabed and is held in place by gravity and additional ballast.

Following its successful installation at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, the HS1000 device will now enter a test period to confirm its performance and reliability, in preparation for larger scale production and deployment.

The tidal turbine has been developed by Hammerfest Strøm, a company partly-owned by Iberdrola (SPR’s parent company), Andritz Hydro and Statoil New Energy.

Stein Atle Andersen, managing director of Hammerfest Strom, said: “The device was installed in one of Europe’s most challenging waters, during the roughest time of the year, which shows the extreme conditions the technology is capable of handling.”

The company’s plans to develop a 10MW tidal array received planning consent from the Scottish Government in March last year.

Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of SPR, said “This is a major milestone in the development of tidal power technology in Scotland, and for the tidal power industry across the world. We anticipate using this turbine as part of our project in Islay, which will be the first of its kind in the world, and remains the only consented tidal array project in Scotland. Beyond this, we have ambitions to use this turbine as part of even larger scale projects in the Pentland Firth, which we are currently investigating.”

Regarded as one of the world’s most advanced tidal turbine designs, a prototype of the device has been generating electricity in Norway for over six years.

The tidal power devices are installed at 40-100m depth in tidal streams with velocity in excess of 2.5m/s. They are installed on the seabed, and do not create any visible or audible pollution above the surface, while allowing vessels to operate without restrictions.
It is expected the machine will be fully operational later this year. The tests will also help to finalise the timetable for the Islay project, with machines being installed as early as 2013.