Ground-breaking tidal energy generator launched in Wales
Wales' first full-scale tidal energy generator is being unveiled today (7 August) in Pembrokeshire ahead of its installation in Welsh waters.
The 400kW DeltaStream device, developed by tidal stream technology company Tidal Energy, will be officially unveiled by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones in Pembroke Port, before being installed in the nearby Ramsey Sound.
It will be one of the world's first grid-connected demonstration devices to generate green, sustainable and predictable tidal power and could be the first of nine DeltaStream generators to be built in the area.
"This is a significant milestone for us as a company and for the industry as a whole," said Tidal Energy's managing director Martin Murphy. "We have achieved a number of firsts with this project, including those relating to the environmental consents, the grid connection and the installation process - where the turbine and foundation are installed together.
"The imminent launch of DeltaStream, and the supply chain that now exists as a consequence of its development, marks the birth of the tidal industry in Wales. We remain committed to leading the expansion of this industry and to the creation of green jobs by building on the wealth of expertise present in the UK and the country's plentiful resources."
Unlike other tidal designs currently being developed, the DeltaStream device combines a freestanding triangular base design with a hydraulics system which ensures the turbine freely turns to capture the best tidal flow and maximise power generation. The gravitational pull anchors the device in place, eliminating the need for costly drilling into the seabed and ensuring low installation and maintenance costs, relative to the electricity it generates.
The devise, which weighs 150 tonnes and is 20m high, also includes a number of design features to minimise any potential impact on the surrounding environment.
The European Regional Development Fund put forward £8M for the project, which was match-funded by Welsh renewable energy company, Eco2. Following a 12-month testing period, Tidal Energy will join forces with Eco2 Ltd to install up to nine DeltaStream devices off St Davids Head in Pembrokeshire. These installations will form a 10MW DeltaStream commercial array and generate enough power for more than 10,000 homes.
Eco2's chief executive David Williams said: "The St Davids Head project will serve to further prove the commercial viability of DeltaStream and marine renewable energy as a whole. The device has excellent export potential for deployment in high energy tidal sites around the world, and we intend to harness this tidal potential."
The DeltaStream project marks the first step in the delivery of the Welsh Government's March 2014 Plan for its Low-Carbon Transition Strategy in marine renewable generation. DECC estimates that the UK has around 50% of Europe's tidal energy resource and could meet up to 20% of its electricity demand using wave and tidal technology.