Installation of the first Atlantis Resources AR1500 tidal energy turbine.

First turbine deployed for world’s largest tidal energy project

Installation of the first Atlantis Resources AR1500 tidal energy turbine. The first phase of the MeyGen project (Phase 1A) involves the deployment of four 1.5MW turbines installed on gravity turbine support structures as part of MeyGen’s ‘deploy and monitor strategy’.
 
The project will demonstrate that the development of tidal array projects is both commercially viable and technically feasible, with the invaluable lessons drawn from the construction, installation, operation and maintenance of this phase of the project fed into subsequent phases. Photo © Lockheed Martin
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Atlantis Resources Limited has deployed the first AR1500 tidal energy turbine with new Lockheed Martin technology off the northern coast of Scotland. The installation is the latest development in the MeyGen project designed to harness the motion of the tides to provide clean, sustainable, predictable power for up to 175,000 homes in Scotland. Under contract and in partnership with Atlantis, Lockheed Martin designed the 1.5 megawatt AR1500 turbine.

In addition to system design, Lockheed Martin developed, manufactured and delivered two innovative subsystems, the Yaw Drive System (YDS) and the Variable Pitch System (VPS). The two elements enable the turbine to rotate autonomously around its base, so it always faces into the tidal flow. The pitch angle of the turbine blades also adjusts to optimize the power generation in a given tidal stream. Installation and connection of the AR1500 was completed with record-breaking efficiency in less than 60 minutes, representing a significant time reduction compared to most similar systems.

The operation marks the first time a tidal turbine has been installed and connected to the shore instantaneously. “Tidal turbines must be highly reliable and resilient to withstand and operate within the tough environment of a sea floor,” said Frank Armijo, Vice President of Lockheed Martin Energy. “These design requirements are similar to the reliability and durability needs of many of our aerospace programs. With innovations in advanced manufacturing and materials, and experiences gained in the design and production of undersea systems, space projects and aeronautics, we are now helping to make tidal energy more reliable and effective.”

The site of the MeyGen Project in the Pentland Firth, just two kilometres from Scotland’s northeast tip, covers some of the fastest flowing waters in the United Kingdom.
The site of the MeyGen Project in the Pentland Firth, just two kilometres from Scotland’s northeast tip, covers some of the fastest flowing waters in the United Kingdom.

Tidal technology

Tidal energy is produced by the surge of ocean water during the rise and fall of tides. Submerged rotors harness the power of the ocean currents to drive generators, which in turn produce electricity. Each turbine is located on an individual foundation weighing between 250 and 350 tonnes, coupled with 6 ballast blocks weighing 1,200 tonnes that provide horizontal stability over the lifetime of the turbine. Each turbine has a dedicated subsea array cable laid directly on the seabed and brought ashore via a horizontal directionally drilled borehole within the foreshore bedrock.

The turbines feed into the onshore power conversion unit building at the Ness of Quoys, where the low voltage supply will be converted to 33kV for export via the 14.9MW grid connection into the local distribution network. The MeyGen project is currently the largest planned tidal stream project in the world and is the only commercial multi-turbine array to have commenced construction. The site, in the Pentland Firth, just two kilometres from Scotland’s northeast tip, covers some of the fastest flowing waters in the United Kingdom. Atlantis has a goal to deploy nearly 270 turbines to generate up to 398 MW of energy.

Looking to the future

The second phase of the MeyGen project (1B) will involve the deployment of an additional 4 1.5MW turbines installed on innovative foundations. The project is a key enabler for Each turbine is fixed to an individual foundation weighing between 250 and 350 tonnes. Photo © Atlantis Resources future phases of deployment, by demonstrating the use of technologies which will significantly reduce the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) from tidal generation.

Atlantis has full consent, all necessary permission and grid capacity for the third and final stage of the project, Phase 1C. It will build an additional 49 (73.5 MW) turbines at MeyGen at an estimated cost of GBP 420m, with installation commencing in 2019. The project will be transformational for the tidal energy industry, providing the necessary scale to justify the establishment of turbine manufacturing facilities at Global Energy’s facility in Nigg Energy Park. Phase 1C will create an estimated 5300 full time roles, repurposing jobs from the oil and gas sector and placing Scotland at the forefront of an estimated 25GW global export market for decades to come, as well as significantly reducing LCOE.
Each turbine is fixed to an individual foundation weighing between 250 and 350 tonnes. Photo © Atlantis Resources
Each turbine is fixed to an individual foundation weighing between 250 and 350 tonnes. Photo © Atlantis Resources
 

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