SeaGen’s Commissioning Statement: July 22
During the commissioning of the SeaGen tidal energy system in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough, two turbine blades, on the westernmost of the twin rotors, have unfortunately been damaged. The damaged turbine blades have been removed from SeaGen’s rotor hub for inspection. Marine Current Turbines’ engineering team believes that the damage to the blades was caused as a result of a computer fault in the control system affecting the operation of one of the two SeaGen 600kW turbines. A full investigation is being carried out by the company into the incident that took place on July 18th, with work already underway to replace the damaged blades.
Marine Current Turbines will continue to commission the other turbine as originally planned and this will still be able to generate electricity into the grid on a test basis.
Due to this event, the full commissioning of SeaGen will have to be delayed until the early autumn as one of the replacement blades is not immediately available and has a lengthy delivery lead time. The fixing of the new blades is expected to be routine and due to SeaGen’s innovative design they will be attached after raising the crossbeam and power units above the water, allowing for easy and safe access.
The problem that caused the damage arose during the afternoon of Thursday, July 18th and caused no risk to the test crew or indeed to any passing wildlife such as seals.
The damage was caused by a combination of circumstances that can only arise during the commissioning process and there is no implication that the SeaGen system design or its operational capabilities are in any way compromised, indeed the other rotor and drive train have already functioned as expected without fault. Changes have already been made to prevent this particular problem from occurring again. The software is being extensively reviewed in the light of the problem.
Apart from the unavoidable delay waiting for a replacement component this will not affect MCT’s future plans. In fact there is worldwide interest in this pioneering development, reflected in the media coverage in recent weeks. This delay will have no effect on plans to deploy several SeaGen devices off Anglesey and in other stretches of water in the UK and overseas over the coming years. With SeaGen and its preceding device, SeaFlow, MCT enjoys a significant world-lead in the development of commercial-scale tidal stream technology.