Nova Innovation leads €20m European tidal energy project

Scottish tidal energy company Nova Innovation is to head a consortium of nine leading industrial, academic and research organisations in a major new European project.

The Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal (EnFAIT) project builds on Nova’s existing operational tidal power station in Bluemull Sound off the Shetland Islands in Scotland, which was the world’s first grid-connected offshore array of tidal energy turbines.

The project, which begins this month and will run until June 2022, has been won as a competitive contract awarded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to develop marine energy sources and demonstrate technologies in European waters.

The project is a flagship initiative for the EU and marine energy and aims to increase the commercial viability of tidal power.Nova Innovation leads €20m European tidal energy project

It will extend the Bluemull Sound array to six turbines and is intended to demonstrate that high array reliability and availability can be achieved using best practice maintenance regimes. The layout of the turbines will be adjusted to enable array interactions and optimisation to be studied for the very first time at an operational tidal energy site.

The total project costs are expected to be €20.2m ($22m), of which the EU Horizon 2020 Programme will be contributing €14.9m.

Simon Forrest, chief executive of Nova Innovation, said winning the EnFAIT project “represents a huge vote of confidence in the ability of Nova Innovation and its partners to deliver. The project will make a major contribution to reducing the lifetime costs of tidal energy, and will boost investor confidence by providing hard-edged analytics of commercial and operational performance to inform investment decisions.”

He added: “Being able to provide evidence of our technology delivered and working in real grid-connected conditions was crucial to our winning the EnFAIT project. Our cost control and cost reduction planning were equally decisive. We are looking forward to achieving further world-class results, working with our consortium partners.”

Rémi Gruet, chief executive of industry network Ocean Energy Europe, called the project an important pathfinder for the tidal energy industry in Europe: “This announcement is a significant development, and further proof that the tidal energy industry is now in take-off mode. The EnFAIT project is an important pathfinder project and will help strengthen Europe’s global technology leadership in tidal energy. The knowledge, experience and expertise gained from projects like this will pave the way for a new industrial manufacturing sector with a supply chain based firmly in Europe”.

Founded in 2010, Nova now employs over 30 staff. In 2013, Ian Marchant, former boss of SSE, one of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ utilities, joined the company as chairman.

Nova’s consortium partner companies are Belgian renewable energy project developer ELSA, UK research centre Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, integrated drive systems provider HMK Technical Services, German bearing and sealing firm SKF GmbH, The University of Edinburgh,Wood Group (France), Mojo Maritime, a UK project management, engineering and consultancy company, and French environmental consultancy RSK Environment.

Horizon 2020 is the largest ever EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80bn of funding available over seven years. The goal of the programme is to ensure that Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors in creating innovation.

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