Article Source: IMechE

Pic: The Tiger project in the English channel will use horizontal axis turbines from Atlantis (Credit: Simec Atlantis)

A ‘game-changing’ €46.8m tidal energy project has been approved for the English Channel.

Aiming to halve the generating costs of tidal stream energy by 2025, the Tidal Stream Industry Energiser (Tiger) project is being undertaken by Interreg, an organisation that supports cooperation across borders through project funding. With the European Regional Development Fund contributing €28m towards the project, the aim is to drive the growth of the tidal energy industry by installing up to 8MW of new tidal capacity.

The project will install Atlantis AR2000 2MW horizontal-axis turbines at Raz Blanchard, off the coast of Normandy, as a forerunner to a much bigger array. Energy from the demonstration array will be sold to the island of Alderney.

Tiger aims to scale up the manufacturing and supply chain for tidal energy technology. Eventually, it aims to make a stronger, more cost-effective case for tidal stream energy. This should enable it to compete with other renewables such as wind and solar, and become part of the energy mix in the UK and France.

The project “builds on the success in Scottish waters, where the ground-breaking MeyGen tidal energy project – the largest in the world – is continuing to set the international standard for others to follow,” said Luke Clark, director of strategic communications at RenewableUK, to Professional Engineering.

The sector will need increased political support to maintain momentum, he said. “It’s crucial that the UK government works with industry to deliver new tidal energy projects that will maintain our position as a global leader in marine energy. Building on the success of MeyGen, the UK has the potential to develop a world-leading, low-carbon industry that can help us meet our net zero emissions target and secure global export opportunities”.

Carolyn Reid, programme manager at Interreg, said: “This is a hugely ambitious project that will demonstrate the benefits of harnessing tidal energy on a large scale. The long-term aim is to support the industry to reduce generating costs of tidal stream energy from the existing €300 per MWh to €150 per MWh by 2025.” She added that the project “could have a massive impact on reducing the carbon footprint beyond the lifetime of the project, and beyond the Channel area.”

Dr Stephen Wyatt, research and innovation director for the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, said that “developing successful UK and European collaborations is important for the UK tidal energy industry and will help accelerate the economic, environmental and societal benefits which can be derived from this emerging sector.” He added that the project had a vital role in “ensuring that sustainable, predictable and affordable tidal electricity plays a role in our future energy mix as we tackle the global climate emergency.”

Whilst advocates claim that tidal energy can provide clean and predictable power over multiple decades, the industry’s development has been hampered by its inability to compete with the cost reductions of other renewables. The challenge for Tiger is whether the project can emulate the rapid cost reductions seen by the offshore wind sector to sufficiently compete.

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