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Research and development of a bluetec tidal energy converter for harsh offshore environment

The consortium wants to develop bluetec, an innovative integrated concept for generating electrical power from marine tidal currents at 50% of the costs of current technologies.

Rising energy demand and increasing greenhouse gas emissions has led to a global demand in energy production from renewable sources. Tidal energy remains a substantial untapped renewable energy resource. Extractable tidal energy is estimated to be around 800 TWh per annum. At 2,500 euros/kW, the potential medium term equipment market size is over 90 billion euros. Major tidal energy locations include EU (North Sea), U.S., CANADA, KOREA, JAPAN, CHINA, INDONESIA, PHILIPPINES, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND and ARGENTINA among others. Tidal energy offers various advantages over other sources of energy: it is the most predictable and reliable form of renewable energy and can generate electricity for populated as well as very remote locations with a minimal impact on the environment. Besides being very promising, tidal energy extraction is difficult. Most tidal energy is located in seas deeper than 20 meters and in relatively harsh offshore environments facing strong currents, waves and winds. Robustness and reliability of the device and ease of installation, operation and maintenance are therefore essential. Plus, to be competitive against other forms of energy, the tidal energy production must be economical. Many devices risk being damaged by the tidal and wave forces; others are over-designed at such high costs that the tidal power generation is not economically feasible. The partners in this project have identified key success factors as well as critical aspects from the current state-of-the-art devices. The feasibility studies conducted by the partners have led to the proposed BLUETEC concept, an innovative simple, reliable and economical concept for generating electrical power from tidal currents. BLUETEC will be a lightweight floating offshore structure with multiple tidal turbines attached underneath the structure. Its main features are described below: 1. Multiple medium sized turbines (instead of one or two large turbines - for reliable power delivery and lower maintenance urgency). 2. Low capex (tubular construction can be fabricated at many yards). 3. Low operation costs (easy to install and access due to its floating nature). 4. Unique design (structure can hold both vertical axis and horizontal axis turbines, and generators). 5. Low maintenance costs (easily accessible equipment, easy to connect-disconnect turbines, and use of purpose built maintenance barge). 6. Easily scalable (diameter and number of turbines) up to 4 MW per device. 7. Wider applicability (can operate in various water depths from 25 - 60m). 8. Self-starting Kobold turbine (and independent of the direction of currents). Proposed concept: 8 turbine units per device; 4x2 catenary mooring lines; Weight excluding mooring: approximately 600 tonnes; Turbine size: 6 x 6m; Platform size: approximately 38 x 24m. Device capacity: approximately 2 MW; Annual production: 4 – 5 GWh; can sustainably power approximately 650 houses. At this moment, the concept is still in the early R&D stages. A wide range of research and development activities needs to be conducted reflecting realistic operating and storm conditions to ensure economic installation and operation, maximum reliability, and cost-effective operations and maintenance activities. After completion of the research and development, BLUETEC will be a breakthrough technology in a market characterised by a growing demand of reliable and cost-effective tidal energy devices. The R&D-project will be executed by a complementary team of partners, each with world-leading knowledge and experience in their specific technological domain: * Turbine development and experience will be contributed by PONTE DI ARCHIMEDE (ITALY). * The UNIVERSITY OF NAPLES FEDERICO II (ITALY) will perform hydrodynamic simulations, CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) modelling and basin tests of the Kobold turbine. * BLUEWATER ENERGY SERVICES (NETHERLANDS) will develop the offshore platform and mooring designs; designs for cost-effective installation, operation and maintenance; and knowledge on the integration of these systems; and will develop key knowledge on the implementation of generator, grid and conversion technology in this demanding offshore application for the proposed BLUETEC concept using their wide offshore design, and owner and operator experience in the oil and gas industry.
Acronym: 
BLUETEC
Project ID: 
4 994
Start date: 
01-04-2009
Project Duration: 
27months
Project costs: 
3 600 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Hydropower
Market Area: 
Other alternative energy (including nuclear energy and uranium mining)

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