Published 19 February 2020

Blending natural power and artifical intelligence to accelerate tidal energy innovation

A €5m EU Project Reducing Tidal Energy Costs by 17%

Recently launched, ELEMENT (Effective Lifetime Extension in the Marine Environment for Tidal Energy) is the latest EU H2020 project to be led by Edinburgh’s Nova Innovation with the participation of ORE Catapult as one of an 11-strong international consortium.

As part of the rapid progress being made with tidal energy technologies, the consortium has identified an opportunity to improve performance using artificial intelligence. In a world-first, the ELEMENT team is using behavioural modelling and machine learning to control tidal energy turbines to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

This approach will reduce the dependency on external instrumentation and sensors which can struggle to withstand the immense forces exerted by the tides. As well as improving reliability and lowering costs, the project will turbo-charge the collection and analysis of ocean data at tidal energy sites, providing valuable learnings that can feed into turbine designs in the future.

By extending tidal turbine lifetime, improving efficiency and increasing availability, the project is expected to deliver a 17 per cent cost saving on the levelised cost of tidal energy.

ORE Catapult’s tidal energy expertise

Our engineering team will collaborate on the design of the ELEMENT system and provide market analysis to assist its commercialisation. The Catapult team is also working on tidal energy monitoring, modelling and forecasting on ELEMENT’s sister project EnFAIT (Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal).

By 2022, EnFAIT will have six tidal energy turbines in operation at Nova Innovation’s Shetland Tidal Array (STA) and different layouts of the turbines in the array will have been tested and optimised to further improve the performance of the technology. This will demonstrate a clear cost reduction pathway for tidal energy, enabling it to be more competitive with fossil fuels in the near term, and with nuclear in the longer term.

ELEMENT project news can be found at 


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