The development of commercial scale tidal power projects draws many comparisons to the evolution of the offshore wind industry in Europe over the past decade.
As tidal power approaches the commercial stage, marine power technology companies acknowledge that tidal power turbines will need to provide their reliability and operational capability at a commercial scale (1 MW+) in harsh ocean environments for a period of continuous use that is meaningful to the debt and insurance providers.
The cost of deploying a commercial scale tidal turbine and the associated transmission infrastructure required to evacuate tidal power can be prohibitively expensive, hence merit based financial assistance is required to facilitate proof of commercial ready status, says Timothy Cornelius, CEO, Atlantis Resources Corp.
Developers are typically capital constrained and their cost of capital is very high, added Cornelius, who is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming 3rd International Tidal Energy Summit 2009 in London this year in November.
“Material progress made by each individual developer benefits the entire industry as we collectively seek acceptance as a main stream source of renewable energy,” said Cornelius, who feels there is need for more collaboration within the tidal power industry.
Economies of scale
Main stream renewable technologies such as wind have set the benchmark for Cost of Energy (CoE) targets that investors deem acceptable in a carbon constrained economy.
Tidal power does not enjoy the economies of scale that wind power currently benefits from, especially with respect to component manufacture volume. However, the tidal power sector, according to Cornelius, must prove to utilities and investors alike that it is on an evolutionary path to achieving a CoE that is as competitive if not more competitive than offshore wind the near term and competitive with on-shore wind in the medium term.
Therefore, to transition from demonstration to commercial scale, governments should focus on supporting tidal power developers in the short term through offsetting the cost of proving 1 MW+ systems for at least 24 months in full open ocean environments and supporting the development of the tidal power industry in the medium term by maintaining feed-in tariff support at a level that realistically offsets the cost of power evacuation in some of the harshest locations on earth, added Cornelius.
“Success for the entire sector, not just Atlantis, will emanate from successful execution of the first 100 MW of installed tidal power capacity in a single array formation,” says Cornelius.
For its part, Atlantis is committed to building a top-notch team in the UK at present to support its customers in project origination, resource analysis, field design and build of commercial scale tidal power projects in UK waters.
Atlantis will be unveiling its new commercial scale tidal turbine in 2010 and will focus on putting this tidal turbine through rigorous environmental and operational testing parameters in harsh ocean conditions over the next two years.
Cornelius said the company will continue to focus on the development, project execution and operation of a multi-turbine tidal array in conjunction with leading industry partners, investors, stakeholders and infrastructure financiers whilst expanding its project delivery pipeline in other jurisdictions that it deems to be financially viable.
At this juncture, the marine energy sector needs additional support on several counts. All these issues and lot more is slated to be discussed in the forthcoming 3rd International Tidal Energy Summit 2009.
The two-day conference has already received confirmation from the best in the business in the wake of growing interest in this sector. The speaker line-up includes:
- Timothy Cornellius, Chief Executive Officer, Atlantis Resources Corporation
- Martin Wright, Managing Director, Marine Current Turbines
- James Ives, Chief Executive, Open Hydro
This article first appeared in Tidal Today