A project aiming to maximise tidal energy generation has been launched in the presence of Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, at the University of Edinburgh’s FastBlade facility.
The Princess Royal, who is also Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, visited on Tuesday 17 January to meet colleagues from the testing facility and partners of the new MAXBlade project.
The €10 million project – funded by the European Union and UK Research and Innovation – aims to deliver a range of innovations to improve the performance of tidal turbines and reduce costs.
It will investigate the full lifecycle of tidal turbine blades, from materials, manufacture and operation, to decommissioning and recyclability. The project’s long-term aim is to ensure the European composite sector becomes the international leader in tidal blade manufacture.
The project plans to increase the area harnessed by Scottish tidal technology company Orbital Marine Power to generate power – known as the rotor swept area – by 70 percent, to more than 1,000 square metres.
MAXBlade will increase the length of the turbine blades from 10 to 13 metres – making them the longest of their kind in the world. The team says that boosting blade length will have the single greatest impact on reducing the cost of tidal energy.
Modelling by the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Energy Systems estimates £40bn could be generated for the UK economy by harnessing wave and tidal energy.
The project will involve a two-year design and development phase, followed by an 18-month build, during which blades will undergo advanced structural testing at FastBlade.
The technology will then undergo two years of real-world testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. Two of Orbital Marine Power’s O2 floating platforms – the world’s most powerful tidal turbines – will each be fitted with four of the newly developed blades.
The team aims to generate 120,000 hours of performance data that will be assessed by EMEC and project partner TECNALIA, a research and technological development centre.
Innovations from MAXBlade will be integrated with findings from its sister project, FORWARD2030, to enable large-scale production of Orbital’s O2 turbine technology. This will pave the way to the tidal energy sector making significant contributions towards Europe’s energy systems, energy security and industrial development by 2030 and beyond to 2050, the team says.
Andrew Scott, Chief Executive Officer at Orbital Marine Power, said: “Orbital is delighted to be involved with so many great partners on this truly cutting-edge project. MAXBlade will help deliver tidal energy into a future, low-carbon energy mix at lower costs while, at the same time, position UK & European businesses to benefit from long-term industrial opportunities that will come from this new, sustainable industry.”
Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Head of School and Chair of Materials Engineering at Edinburgh University, said: “The University of Edinburgh is delighted to be a partner in the MAXBlade project, where we will demonstrate the unique rapid testing capability of the FastBlade facility. This will help the tidal energy industry to de-risk their ongoing turbine developments and provide low-cost, reliable renewable energy to the grid. We will also lead the development of thermoplastic resins in MAXBlade and the circular economy roadmap needed for future tidal blade manufacturing and recycling.”
MAXBlade is led by TechnipFMC and includes Orbital Marine Power, Marasoft, TECNALIA, University of Edinburgh, EMEC, Laborelec and European Composites Industry Association. It is supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service.
MAXBlade receives funding from the Horizon Europe Framework Programme. Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a total budget of EUR 95.5 billion.
MAXBlade is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
Project duration: January 1, 2023 – 20 June, 2028 (66 months).
EU funding amount: € 1,373,889.
FastBlade is the world’s first rapid testing facility for tidal turbine blades. A partnership between the University of Edinburgh and large-scale manufacturer Babcock, it sits at Rosyth Docks, Fife, Scotland, as part of the Arrol Gibb Innovation Campus (AGIC). FastBlade’s pioneering technology can repeatedly stress test blades made from composite materials – which must withstand harsh ocean conditions for 20 years – and is used by researchers and industry to develop the potential of offshore wave and tidal energy.
Orbital Marine Power (Orbital) is a visionary, Scotland-based, renewable energy company focused on the development and global application of its pioneering floating turbine technology.
The culmination of over 15 years of refinement has resulted in the world’s most powerful and advanced tidal stream turbine, the O2, which has been exporting low carbon electricity to the UK grid since July 2021. The O2 is a 2 MW+ product capable of being deployed in multi-unit arrays to provide utility-scale, clean energy with almost zero visual impact.
Orbital’s innovative, approach de-risks the commercial extraction of low carbon energy from fast flowing currents by offering low manufacturing and installation costs as well as the ability to carry out inexpensive, quick servicing on all major turbine components through a proprietary structural configuration.
Orbital has an established portfolio of further multi-MW tidal stream projects, focused initially within UK waters, built on a global pipeline of multi-GW opportunities.
More information about Orbital can be found here: www.orbitalmarine.com
The inspiring story of the O2, from concept to power generation, in under two minutes can be viewed here.
EMEC is an innovation catalyst supporting the transition to a low carbon future.
Established in Orkney in 2003, EMEC is the world’s leading accredited test laboratory and inspection body for demonstrating wave and tidal energy converters, subsystems and components in the sea.
To date, more marine energy converters have been deployed in Orkney, Scotland, than at any other single site in the world with 22 wave and tidal energy clients (from 11 countries) having tested 35 marine energy devices.
EMEC provides demonstration, technical and commercial support to reduce the time, cost and risk to progress innovative sustainable technologies to market. The company is committed to supporting the transition to net zero and has expanded activities into other sectors including green hydrogen, floating wind, clean transport and energy systems.
TechnipFMC is a leading technology provider to the traditional and new energy industries, delivering fully integrated projects, products, and services.
With our proprietary technologies and comprehensive solutions, we are transforming our clients’ project economics, helping them unlock new possibilities to develop energy resources while reducing carbon intensity and supporting their energy transition ambitions.
Organized in two business segments – Subsea and Surface Technologies – we will continue to advance the industry with our pioneering integrated ecosystems (such as iEPCI™, iFEED™ and iComplete™), technology leadership and digital innovation.
Each of our approximately 20,000 employees is driven by a commitment to our clients’ success, and a culture of strong execution, purposeful innovation, and challenging industry conventions.
TechnipFMC uses its website as a channel of distribution of material company information. To learn more about how we are driving change in the industry, go to www.TechnipFMC.com
In the MaxBlade project, TechnipFMC is represented by the Company’s Polish branch, located in Krakow.