Just 18 months after its launch, the flagship European Union (EU) tidal-energy project — Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal (EnFAIT) — has reduced the cost of tidal energy by 15% and expanded its supply chain from four countries to 14.
EnFAIT is a collaboration between nine European partners focused on demonstrating the economic viability of tidal power and paving the way for a new industrial marine manufacturing sector, with a supply chain based around Europe.
The consortium’s leader, Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation Ltd, reports that its Shetland tidal array has reduced operational costs by 15% since the start of the project.
By 2022, when the project closes, it expects a cost reduction exceeding 40%, which could spark an explosion of interest in tidal power from global investors.
Further cost reductions will be driven by improvements in: the design of Nova Innovation’s underwater turbines; understanding the optimal arrangement of the turbines; and the measurement and forecasting of tidal flows at prospective sites.
Nova Innovations CEO Simon Forrest said (www.novainnovation.com
): “Even at this early stage of the project, we have achieved significant cost reduction successes, and EnFAIT is already helping to map out the world’s most extensive tidal power supply chain across Europe.
The UK has been a pioneer in developing this new industry; we remain the global leader in the development of tidal technologies, and the burgeoning supply chain in Scotland and in Europe demonstrates the economic benefits that this sector can bring.
“The cost reduction pathway is becoming increasingly clear. As the project progresses, we are discovering new insights into the way tidal turbines interact with each other, and we are also gaining knowledge of the elegant interplay between the turbines and the tidal flows around them.
“This new knowledge is allowing us to maximise yield and creates the foundation for ‘Eureka’ design moments that will facilitate further falling costs.”