Pioneering renewable energy developer, Marine Current Turbines, has successfully completed the first installation phase of the 1.2MW SeaGen Tidal System into the fast-flowing waters of Strangford Narrows.
The crane barge, “Rambiz”, is set to sail for Belgium after safely positioning the 1000 tonne structure onto the seabed in the early hours of Wednesday morning (2 April) and releasing its four moorings today. SeaGen’s location is roughly 1km south of the ferry route between Strangford and Portaferry, approximately 400m from the shoreline.
When fully operational later in the summer, its 16m diameter, twin rotors will operate for up to 18-20 hours per day to produce enough clean, green electricity, equivalent to that used by a 1000 homes. This is four times greater than any other tidal stream project so far built.
Commentating after the successful first phase of work, Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said:
“SeaGen is a hugely exciting project, as well as an historic achievement for both Marine Current Turbines and for renewables in the UK and Ireland. Tidal energy has the great advantage of being predictable and no other system can harness the power of the tidal currents in the way this one can. We take great pride and see enormous potential in the technology and hope it will eventually make a significant contribution to the future energy needs of the British Isles, Ireland and beyond.”
Secretary of State for Energy, John Hutton added:
"It is great news that Marine Current Turbines and British innovation are leading the world in the development of marine energy technologies. It’s this sort of project which will help the UK meet our ambitious targets to significantly increase the amount of energy from renewable sources.
"I am proud that my department has played a part in the development of SeaGen, granting £5.2 million of funds to help take it from the drawing board.
"Marine power has the potential to make a significant contribution to our energy generation needs, and I hope the success of this project will inspire others to follow its lead.”
SeaGen had its final assembly at the Harland & Wolff dockyard in Belfast. Here it was winched onto the crane barge, “Rambiz”, owned and operated by the Belgium company Scaldis, and then transported to Strangford Narrows on Sunday (30 March).
The deployment by the Rambiz and the subsequent installation work is being overseen by MCT’s in-house engineering team and managed by marine engineering specialists SeaRoc Ltd.
The quadropod section that sits on the seabed will now be pin piled. Each of the four pins that secure SeaGen will be drilled to a depth of around nine metres. This work is being carried out by Fugro Seacore Ltd. The installation work is scheduled to take up to 14 days.
SeaGen will enter commercial operation after a commissioning phase of around 12 weeks and supply electricity to the local grid. ESB Independent Energy, the retail subsidiary of ESB, Ireland’s national electricity company, has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with MCT to supply to its customers in the island of Ireland with the power produced by SeaGen.
As a renewable energy company, MCT takes its responsibilities to the environment seriously. It has established a £2million programme to closely monitor the environmental impact of SeaGen, involving scientists from the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and from the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrew’s University (SMRU). The programme includes the presence of a Marine Mammal Observer on SeaGen at all times during the commissioning phase, when SeaGen will only operate during daylight hours, to observe how the Lough’s marine life interacts with the structure. There is also a sonar system monitoring seal movements, operated by SMRU, which has been partly paid for by the Npower juice fund
An official switch-on ceremony will take place in the summer after the commissioning phase is completed.
***IMAGES OF SEAGEN ON RAMBIZ IN THE STRANGFORD NARROWS AVAILABLE FROM TAYLOR KEOGH COMMUNICATIONS***
Notes to Editors
1. Marine Current Turbines Ltd (www.marineturbines.com) is based in Bristol, England. The company was established in 2000 and its principal corporate shareholders include BankInvest, ESB International, EDF Energy, Guernsey Electricity and Triodos Bank. With SeaFlow, the word’s first offshore tidal stream device (installed in 2003 off the north Devon coast) and SeaGen, the world’s largest grid-connected tidal stream system, MCT is the “first mover” in the development of tidal turbines and has a significant global technical lead in this field.
2. In February MCT announced a joint initiative with npower renewables to take forward a 10.5MW project using several SeaGen devices off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales. It is hoped the tidal farm will be commissioned around 2011/2012.
3. The juice fund is financed by npower on behalf of juice customers to further the research and development of marine renewable energy generation
For further information:
Marine Current Turbines
Martin Wright, Managing Director
Tel: +44 117 979 1888 / 07785 340671
David Meechan/Paul Taylor (Taylor Keogh Communications)
Tel: +44 20 3170 8465/ +44 7817 208893 / +44 7966 782611
E: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com