Funding worth £700,000 will be split across two projects to help improve understanding of tidal power’s impact on marine environments and the impact of the environment on the tidal technology.

The projects are being supported by Innovate UK, private capital and Nova Scotia’s Offshore Energy Research Association.

One project will work on developing new sensor systems to measure the impact of water turbulence on tidal energy technology. Better understanding the turbulence will allow new technology to better withstand the effects of strong tides and projects.

Ocean turbulence

The first project will work with UK companies FloWave, Ocean Array Systems as well as the European Marine Energy Centre and Nova-Scotia-based Dalhousie University, Black Rock Tidal Power and Rockland Scientific.

FloWave CEO Stuart Brown said: “The prospect of new instrumentation, data and analysis techniques that will help the industry better understand and address the challenge of turbulence in the tidal flow, particularly around structures and within projects, is to be welcomed.”

The FloWave researchers will carry out tests in UK and Canadian waters as well as in the University of Edinburgh’s ocean research facility, which houses a 25-metre wave and current tank.

A second project will develop acoustic testing systems to improve the detection of fish and marine mammals at tidal sites to assess the impact of tidal turbines on marine life.

UK partners on the project inculde Tritech International, Ocean Sonics and SMRU.

Combined knowledge

Innovate UK head of energy Rob Saunders said: “The marine renewable energy sectors in both the UK and Canada, particularly Nova Scotia are very strong.

“By supporting innovation and collaboration between the two countries we can combine expertise, knowledge and experience to tackle shared challenges associated with tidal energy, and make it a more affordable, low carbon energy alternative while also creating jobs, growth and boosting productivity.” 

Nova Scotia Energy Minister Michel Samson added: “These projects are an example of how partners from around the world are coming together to better understand the opportunity in our oceans and how to harness their power – safely, effectively, and in an environmentally responsible way.”

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change recently gave its support to tidal power with plans for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. The £850m project will aim to be fully operational by 2023 and provide up to 320MW of tidal energy capacity.

Matt Field


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