A full tidal array has not been installed anywhere commercially, to date. A number of the leading turbine manufacturers have part or full scale working prototypes which are under-going testing in various sites the majority of which are enclosed in semi-test environments. In order to move this nascent technology into the commercial arena and expedite market deployment, it is necessary to establish an array of turbines in one site to verify the performance capability and environmental characteristics of a full array.
The demonstration will also enable developers to make critical investment decisions based on the cost to market of deploying the technology, and manufacturers to establish likely interaction effects between machines which will inform their design. As with other technologies, notably wind, the manufacture and installation costs will drop as the technology matures.
The SPV will deliver one of the first operating tidal energy farms, located 2km off the coast of Antrim in Northern Ireland by 2017. Critically the Fair Head site is a scalable (to 100MW) open sea real site representative of a significant percentage of the near future exploitable tidal resource.
The TIDES project will produce many specific results which will benefit the industry as a whole:-
1. Prove the energy conversion potential of a tidal array in a real sea environment.
2. Develop viable financial models to support commercial exploitation.
3. Identify potential future energy cost reduction techniques including innovative installation methodologies.
4. De-risk tidal energy projects and make them more bankable.
The S&T objectives include addressing technical problems associated with the environment, demonstrating the deployment of an array, environmental assessment, generation and yield assessment.
The proposed consortium has an appropriate and replicable site, market leading technology and sufficient financial backing to ensure the project is built.