Rolls-Royce hits UK renewables milestone with pioneering tidal technology

Thursday, 27 October 2011

  • Innovative Tidal Stream Power Generation Project First to Supply 100MWh to Scottish Grid
  • Demonstrates Rolls-Royce Commitment to Developing Next Generation of Cleaner Energy Solutions

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has achieved a significant milestone in the deployment of tidal energy technology with confirmation that its prototype tidal turbine, located subsea off the Orkney Islands, Scotland, has successfully generated and fed over 100 megawatt hours (MWh) of electrical power into the national grid.

Harnessing the reliable and predictable energy of tidal streams, the 500 kilowatt (kW) tidal turbine prototype was designed and built by Rolls-Royce wholly owned subsidiary Tidal Generation Limited.

Robert Stevenson, Rolls-Royce, Vice-President - Power Ventures said: “Rolls-Royce has injected its world-class engineering expertise and incubation processes to deliver this innovative renewable energy project. Reaching the 100 megawatt hours milestone highlights the significant potential of cleaner, greener tidal power as part of a diversified UK energy mix. Having proven the capability of tidal energy, Rolls-Royce is well placed to meet any future demand with larger, more efficient technology on a commercial scale.”

As a reliable and predictable energy source, deep water tidal stream power generation could make a valuable contribution to meeting the electricity demands and carbon emissions reduction objectives of many industrialised nations, including the UK, Canada, Australia and the U.S.A. For example, Rolls-Royce tidal technology could generate up to 30TWh (terawatt-hours) of UK electricity, equivalent to around 7.5 per cent of existing UK electricity needs or enough to power 3 million homes.

Harnessing the Energy of Tidal Streams

Installed as part of the Deep-Gen III project, co-funded by the UK government-backed Technology Strategy Board, the Rolls-Royce prototype tidal turbine is currently deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) offshore test site off the Orkney Islands, Scotland. It is the first EMEC located project to both receive Renewable Obligation Certificates and to reach 100 MWh of supply to the grid.

The tidal unit’s three-bladed turbine is attached by a tripod to the seabed and can operate, fully submerged at water depth of 40 meters. Its innovative design allows the turbine to continually rotate to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle. In addition, the turbine unit is semi-buoyant and can be easily towed to and from the point of operation, minimising installation and maintenance costs by avoiding the need for specialist vessels.

Neil Morgan, Head of Energy at the Technology Strategy Board said: “This is a significant milestone for the UK marine renewables industry.  The UK is well-placed to exploit tidal stream energy resources and, if commercialised on a large scale, this technology could be an important part of the renewable energy mix we'll need in the future, and could create jobs and exports for the UK.”

As part of the Energy Technologies Institute funded ReDAPT (Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal) consortium project, Rolls-Royce is currently building a 1MW tidal turbine demonstration unit that will be deployed in mid-2012 at EMEC in Orkney. The project will deliver detailed environmental and performance information never before achieved at this scale in real sea conditions. Rolls-Royce is also working with a number of developers in advancing demonstration arrays, systematic arrangements of turbines, which will lead to large scale commercial deployment.

Dr David Clarke, ETI, Chief Executive said: “The U.K. is already a world-leader in this exciting renewable sector. However, the long-term viability of tidal technology depends on it becoming competitive with other renewable energy sources. Continued investment and new partners are urgently needed to maintain momentum and bring the technology to scale.”

  1. Rolls-Royce is a world-leading provider of power systems and services for use on land, at sea and in the air, and has established a strong position in global markets - civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy.
  2. As a result of this strategy, Rolls-Royce has a broad customer base comprising more than 500 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, more than 4,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and energy customers in nearly 120 countries, with an installed base of 54,000 gas turbines.
  3. Annual underlying revenues were £10.8 billion in 2010, of which more than half came from the provision of services. The firm and announced order book stood at £61.4 billion at 30 June 2011, providing visibility of future levels of activity.
  4. Rolls-Royce employs over 39,000 skilled people in offices, manufacturing and service facilities in over 50 countries.  Over 11,000 of these employees are engineers.
  5. In 2010, Rolls-Royce invested £923 million on research and development, two thirds of which had the objective of further improving the environmental performance of its products, in particular reducing emissions. 
  6. Rolls-Royce supports a global network of 28 University Technology Centres, which connect the company’s engineers with the forefront of scientific research.
  7. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit: www.innovateuk.org

The Energy Technologies Institute is a UK based company formed from global industries and the UK Government. The ETI brings together projects and partnerships that create affordable, reliable, clean energy for heat, power, transport and associated infrastructure. For more information, please visit: www.energytechnologies.co.uk 

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