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Tidal Energy Turbine Exceeds 1000 hours of Operation

Tidal Energy Turbine Exceeds 1000 hours of Operation Feeding to the Grid

SeaGen, the world-leading prototype commercial tidal energy turbine designed and deployed by Marine Current Turbines Ltd (MCT) has exceeded 1000 hours of operation in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. It is the first and only tidal current or wave energy system in the world to have achieved this milestone.

The 1.2MW tidal turbine, the largest megawatt scale grid-connected marine renewable energy system in the world, has so far delivered 800MWh into the National Grid with an average Capacity Factor of 66%.

This high capacity factor means that the tidal turbine delivers energy on average at the same rate to be expected from a wind turbine of approximately twice the rated power. Furthermore, the output is totally predictable. This performance has exceeded expectations largely thanks to the intensity of the Strangford Lough tide race and MCT’s own conservative design predictions.

Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said: “We are delighted with SeaGen’s performance. Passing the 1000 hours mark is a great milestone which not only demonstrates the potential for tidal power, but will also help to reinforce confidence in extracting energy from the seas in the future.”

Since starting operation in late 2008, SeaGen’s operation has been limited by its licence conditions to daylight hours, and it is only since the autumn (2009) that SeaGen has operated automatically and without the presence of “marine mammal observers” on board. It was this change that has allowed a considerable increase in SeaGen’s operational hours.

The company is now preparing SeaGen for more intensive operation and it is hoped to gain consent for continuous “24/7” operation before the summer. In the next few weeks, MCT also plans to run SeaGen under supervision of specialists from DNV (Det Norsk Veritas), one of the world’s leading marine classification societies, to obtain independent verification of its performance.

Martin Wright added: “SeaGen is operating as it was designed to do. Crucially, the operational experience and data that we are gaining every day is hugely valuable as we work towards deploying the UK’s first tidal farm within the next two years. SeaGen is a commercial scale prototype and already we are incorporating into the design of the next machines subtle changes to improve maintainability and reliability which are vital for commercial generation.”

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