Supported by consultancies Ricardo and DNV GL, we are leading a three-stage collaborative industry project aimed at improving the reliability of tidal turbine powertrains by reducing risk at the design phase and aiding design optimisation.
The project will address the unique reliability issues faced by a tidal turbine powertrain in converting energy to electricity. Improved reliability will increase energy output and ultimately drive down the cost of marine energy.
Tidal turbines suffer similar operational issues to wind turbines, but the costs associated with retrieving and reinstalling a tidal turbine, and the loss of income from power generation, can be significant, driving up operation and maintenance costs and therefore the cost of marine energy.
The project will draw on reliability data and generic lessons learned and from many industries including offshore wind, oil and gas, defence, automotive and rail. Until now, research into tidal turbine reliability has been segmented and product specific, lacking a systematic and industry-wide approach. But fully understanding the key areas of reliability can help developers further optimise systems, thereby helping to bring down the cost of energy.
Building on the existing turbine testing capability at our 3MW Drivetrain facility, the three phases of the project are:
1. Identify existing data on tidal turbine reliability and any data gaps, and define a process and simulation methodology to better predict degradation or potential failure, as well as the reliability of a tidal turbine.
2. Gather data through planned live testing, and develop a range of tools which can be employed at the design stage.
3. Produce a recommended best practice guide on design optimisation.
Collectively, these measures will increase confidence in tidal technology. Other leading tidal turbine developers and universities have also offered their support to further develop the project.