Sustainable Marine
Image credit: Sustainable Marine

UK-based renewable energy solutions company Sustainable Marine has completed testing of its turbine rotors with the MaREI Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway, the largest test lab of its kind in the Republic of Ireland.

The project, delivered under the Marinet2 – Horizon 2020 which supports the testing of new renewable energy solutions, has proved that the company’s new turbine rotor can operate for two decades in the field.

Testing was conducted in partnership with German engineering firm SCHOTTEL Hydro and included testing rotor behavior under fatigue loading, review of aspects such as torsional deflection and overall structural performance. The parties also tested ultimate loading and the integrity of the blade until failure.

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Sustainable Marine’s novel floating tidal energy system uses a common drive train and two different rotor diameters, measuring 6.3m and 4m, to suit requirements at different resource sites. The turbine design consists of a fixed-pitch rotor engineered from carbon-fibre, in order to flex and pitch in overload conditions. This ‘passive-adaptive’ quality helps reduce structural loads on the turbines so that smaller more cost-effective components can be used. 

Sustainable Marine is preparing to deliver the world’s first floating tidal energy array in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Earlier this year, it launched its new 420kW PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform, featuring the new 4m rotors, which is now undergoing commissioning and testing in Grand Passage.

Ralf Starzmann, Vice President of Business Development at Sustainable Marine, said: “We were delighted to return to NUI Galway to extend our partnership with this world-class test and research facility.

“This international collaboration, through our German engineering partner SCHOTTEL Hydro, provides a firm indication of our ambitions to continue raising the bar and advance the field of tidal turbine technology.

“In order to push the boundaries, it is essential that we challenge our solutions at leading facilities that can push the limits of our technology. Accelerated lifetime testing is an essential process which allows us to rapidly speed up normal conditions, to better understand how structures will react over time.

Reliability is a key factor in tidal turbine development, particularly as we are now moving towards our first commercial projects.”

Prof Jamie Goggins, Director of Research & Innovation, at NUI Galway’s School of Engineering, added: “Due to the nature of shorter blades with significantly higher loads, compared to wind blades, a specialist structural testing facility for tidal turbine blades was required to support the tidal energy industry.

“We are fortunate to have had great investment from the European Commission, through Horizon 2020, and the Irish Government, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), to support us in developing our world leading tidal turbine blade test facility.

“These projects also help train the next generation of energy engineers. To date, over 100 engineers have worked within our group, as either staff or students, and have gone on to work with some of the world’s leading companies.”