VPSTTG VPSTTG: VPS for Tidal Turbine Generators

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Project abstract

VPSTTG will design, manufacture and test an improved tidal turbine’s pitch system – an important component enabling technology for more cost-effective tidal energy turbines. Renewable ocean energy is key to the future of a healthy blue economy in Europe. Europe’s coastline has some of the best tidal streams for tidal turbine generators to provide predictable, reliable, unobtrusive power to European residents. The development of the tidal turbine industry will not only continue to challenge other sources of renewable energy but also, if the right steps are taken, challenge the costs of conventional fossil fuel energy. As mentioned in the EU’s Ocean Strategic Roadmap “Building Ocean Energy for Europe” tidal stream energy is a priority area for development in order to meet the EU’s goal of providing 10% of the EU’s power demand from ocean energy by 2050. This project and grant is key to developing a reliable, low cost tidal turbine that can be installed in a demonstration project further reducing the LCoE (Levelized Cost of Energy) of tidal energy.

The challenges in tidal power technology deployment remain intrinsically linked to its levelized cost of energy (LCoE), the reliability of technology and experience from installed capacity. Atlantis still faces a significant technical challenge in the supply of its Variable Pitching Systems (VPS). The VPS is responsible for the safe control of the turbine’s rotor speed and power generation throughout each tidal cycle, through the mechanical adjustment (pitching) of each blades’ angle of attack relative to the tidal flow. This critical mechanical adjustment is achieved using the system’s actuation unit, and it is this unit that is not readily available at the specification Atlantis require to withstand the highly demanding subsea environment.

At present, the VPS component accounts for a disproportionate amount of the turbine capital cost, but is critical for optimum power generation and consequently, revenue. But as well as needing to make the VPS more cost effective, there is a requirement to significantly change its functionality. The Atlantis AR1500 turbine installed at MeyGen is one of the company’s key enablers to increasing its global competitive advantage and is Atlantis’ pilot turbine which will lead into the development of future tidal turbine demonstration projects around Europe and the world. The current design requires each turbine in an array to have a subsea cable to transmit power and communications to and from the shoreline. The Atlantis Turbines and Engineering Services (ATES) team have identified a new turbine design that would enable an array of turbines to all share one subsea cable which would drastically reduce tidal turbines LCoE - by an estimated 20%. This will be achieved by running the turbines in a fix speed mode, which means that significant cost savings can be achieved by reducing the amount of offshore cables required and much of the onshore equipment. However, to deliver this benefit the new VPS needs to deliver a pitch system optimised to provide torque control. The proposed VPS work is a key part of a significant reduction in the LCoE by enabling fixed-speed tidal turbines.

This project will be designing, manufacturing and testing of one new VPS for an upgraded AR1500 turbine. It will enable Atlantis to prove to potential investors that the right steps are being taken in order to receive funding to build three turbines at the MeyGen Phase 1B demonstration project.

Atlantis has partnered with Asturfeito who will manufacture, assemble and test the new VPS. With Atlantis’ design and tidal experience and Asturfeito’s extensive experience in delivering large technical manufacturing and machining projects the VPS project is setup to be successful. The level of knowledge and experience of both Asturfeito and Atlantis will de-risk the production of the project. The success of this project will also forward both SME’s position in the global tidal and VPS market.

VPSTTG will design, manufacture and test an improved tidal turbine’s pitch system – an important component enabling technology for more cost-effective tidal energy turbines.

Project duration
01/01/2019- 31/12/2020
Project acronym
Call ID
EASME/EMFF/2017/ - Sustainable Blue Economy
Atlantis Operations (UK) Limited, Atlantis (UK)
Asturfeito (Spain)
EU contribution
992.936,00 UER

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