Positive energy acceleration13 February 2012
To help direct future investments into tidal energy extraction projects, greater understanding is required of how such schemes interact with one another. The Energy Technologies Institute in the UK is carrying out research into the subject to help stimulate positive energy acceleration
Like most, the UK government has set itself wide sweeping environmental targets. These include delivering 15% of all energy needs from renewables by 2020, a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, with a goal of at least 80% by 2050. Reducing emissions whilst maintaining energy security within the UK will need a combination of improved efficiency of supply, distribution and use, plus substituting fossil fuels with other low carbon energy sources.
Helping the government to achieve such goals is an organisation called the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). A UK based company formed from global industries and the UK government, ETI brings together projects and partnerships that create affordable, reliable, clean energy for heat, power, transport and associated infrastructure.
Accelerating the development, demonstration and eventual commercial deployment of a focused portfolio of energy technologies is the focal point of ETI’s work. The company’s Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME) helps identify key areas for strategic investment. This inhouse modelling shows that the scale and urgency of the reduction required will not be met through gradual improvements, but that positive technology acceleration is necessary.
Creating ETI projects that will achieve a step change in energy technologies is not just about identifying the right technology programmes. Other factors also have to be considered are:
• The rate at which the technology will help achieve UK energy targets.
• The extent to which ETI investment will create added value.
• The potential market at home and abroad.
Targeted investments are being made in projects in the marine energy industry amongst others, and these projects bridge the gap between laboratory-scale research and development, and commercial deployment of large-scale engineering projects. To date ETI has invested £133M in 35 projects across eight programme areas, including £24M in its marine programme since it was formed in 2008.
“We work with anyone who can help us to create the affordable, sustainable and secure energy solutions the UK requires,” says Nigel Richardson from ETI. “We have worked with large multi-national companies, SMEs, universities and research organisations and consultants in the UK and abroad. Integral to the success of our projects is the high calibre of expertise and knowledge of our project partners. Working with a mix of academia, research institutes, SMEs and large corporate organisations, ETI creates project teams at the cutting edge of science, technology and engineering.”
The latest project currently underway with ETI is focused on tidal energy resources, with an aim to improve the understanding of possible interactions between tidal energy extraction systems as they are deployed between now and 2050.
In the future there is growing potential for more of UK tidal resources to be extracted by a combination of tidal stream and tidal range technologies. In turn this means that the interaction between distant installations may become more significant. The aim of this project is to develop a set of basic, but flexible, assessment tools to allow an examination of these interactions, and to conduct an initial analysis of them. By identifying how the interactions between different sites around the UK combine to form an overall effect, it will be possible to start understanding what constraints these will place on the design, development and location of future systems.
The £450,000 Tidal Modelling Project will run until the end of 2012 and will be led by consulting, engineering and construction company black-veatch, supported by hydrodynamic modelling specialists HR Wallingford and the University of Edinburgh. The work will be carried out in Surrey, Oxfordshire and Edinburgh.
Models of the whole UK Continental Shelf will be developed and used to investigate how energy extraction at one site may affect the energy available elsewhere. A wide range of possible future tidal stream and tidal range sites, with differing technology possibilities will be represented in the models.
In essence the project will develop and verify a set of modelling tools and the following fundamental questions will be addressed:
• How will the interactions between tidal range and tidal stream systems positioned around the UK’s waters combine to form an overall effect?
• Will the extraction of tidal energy resource in one area impact the tidal energy resource at distant sites around the UK and Europe?
• What constraints might these interactions place on the design, development and location of future systems?
The project will deliver:
a) Working hydrodynamic numerical models of the UK Continental Shelf that can be used to simulate combinations of tidal range (ie barrage, lagoon and fence) and tidal stream systems in UK waters for the purpose of estimating combined hydrodynamic effects and energy outputs. These will include a detailed model capable of coupled integration with detailed models of tidal range and tidal stream extraction schemes; and a coarse model capable of high-level representation of the interactions to allow targeted use of the detailed model.
b) Insights into the effects of the interaction between different tidal range and tidal stream energy extraction schemes, using different site scenarios. These insights will include both localised effects (eg around the Pentland Firth for tidal stream), UK wide effects and wider European shoreline effects.
At the end of the project the models will be made available through a service provided by HR Wallingford to the wider marine industry to help inform future plans and strategies.
Dr David Clarke, Chief Executive of the ETI says: “There is potential for more of the UK’s tidal resources to be used to generate energy in the future from a combination of tidal stream and tidal range technologies.
“If this is to happen we need a greater understanding of the impact of energy extraction at various potential sites around the UK. This project will significantly increase the understanding of the effects of different interacting tidal energy schemes in UK waters giving the marine industry the evidence and knowledge it needs to make future investment decisions.”
Andy Baldock, leader of Black & Veatch’s global marine energy team adds: “Black & Veatch is very pleased to be leading this important work, which draws heavily on our previous modelling of the key performance, cost and environmental issues surrounding tidal range and tidal stream projects and their associated technologies. We are particularly pleased to be continuing our existing relationships with HR Wallingford and University of Edinburgh, with whom we have worked on many projects over many years.”
About the ETI
ETI’s six private sector members are BP, Caterpillar, edf Energy, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell. Its public funds are received from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills through the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). These organisations, together with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), are engaged directly in the ETI’s strategy and programme development. For more information visit http://www.energytechnologies.co.uk
|Laying the foundations for tidal development|
In late July, Bauer Renewables Ltd, a subsidiary of BAUER Spezialtiefbau GmbH and part of the international construction and machinery manufacturing concern Bauer AG, successfully installed a drilled-in monopile foundation structure for a tidal energy turbine for client Voith Hydro. This took place off-shore at the test site of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland. An exceptional challenge was posed not only by the drilling works at a water depth of 37m, but also by the extremely strong currents of up to 4.5m/sec.