Atlantis, a global leader in the tidal power sector, confirms that having entered operation in November 2016 and been awarded full Ofgem accreditation as a 5 ROC project in February 2017, the MeyGen array continues to deliver clean, sustainable and predictable electricity to the National Grid. In the first three weeks of March, average generation has been sufficient to power the equivalent of 1,250 UK homes and individually the power performance of the turbines has exceeded the contractual output guarantees, putting the project on track to achieve capacity factors significantly in excess of 40%.
The three turbines from Andritz Hydro Hammerfest (AHH), which were installed between November 2016 and January 2017, are now scheduled to undergo onshore inspection to permit AHH to implement system enhancements derived from the lessons learned during the initial period of operations. The turbines will then be redeployed in the next available tidal window, further validating the rapid retrieval and installation methodology which ensures cost effective operations and maintenance for the subsea assets.
The AR1500 system delivered by Atlantis has an even greater focus on accessibility for maintenance, with a proprietary connection system which allows for installation or retrieval in a single short operation at the turn of the tide. Following demonstration of this system on installation in February, the AR1500 is now operating autonomously at full output, exceeding all expectations.
The turbine installation campaign has shown that offshore operations can successfully be carried out throughout the year, rather than being restricted to the more climatically benign summer months. This is an important finding for the project's future phases and for the drive to maximising availability and reducing cost of energy through efficient marine operations and minimised downtime. The use of jack-up vessels for the installation of the foundations in the autumn of 2016 also contributes to the cost reduction mission by confirming that these vessels can operate safely in high energy tidal environments. A jack-up vessel provides a stable platform which allows for deployment of drilled foundation systems, which are less labour and material intensive than their gravity based equivalents as used in Phase 1A.
David Taaffe, Project Director, said: "The initial operations phase of MeyGen Phase 1A has been a resounding success, and we hope that our achievements will now catalyse further tidal stream developments throughout Europe and worldwide to capitalise on this unique and untapped resource. Turbine production performance has been excellent, and the performance of the AR1500 turbine has been particularly impressive."
"We are delighted with the performance of the AR1500," said Drew Blaxland, Director of Turbines and Engineering Services at Atlantis. "Our initial data analysis shows that the AR1500 is producing at least 4% more energy than the guaranteed contractual baseline, and we anticipate that this will improve further as more data is captured. This performance, coupled with our rapid and effective deployment system, puts the Atlantis system in a class of its own."
Rudolf Bauernhofer, Managing Director of AHH, said: "We have learned a great deal from the first few months of operation and have been very pleased with both the autonomous running capability of the turbines and their energy production which is well above the guaranteed value as assessment of initial data has demonstrated. We've identified some improvements based on the 250MWh of energy generated in the initial period of operations and we are working to implement these to ensure we get the best out of the turbines for years to come."