New tidal record is a sign of big things to come

New tidal record is a sign of big things to come

SIMEC Atlantis a sustainable energy generation company says that its MeyGen tidal turbines have now sent 17.5GWh of renewable electricity to the National Grid, surpassing its previous record of 11GWh. The MeyGen scheme which is situated off the Caithness coast in Scotland involves four tidal turbines which weigh around 200 tonnes each.

The CEO of SIMEC Atlantis Tim Cornelius stated that phase 1A of the MeyGen project has already generated £1.85 million in revenue as well as sent 7GWh to the National Grid this year. This equates to supplying the annual electricity usage of 2,200 homes.

However perhaps the most striking announcement from the company was that the turbines had been operating at 90% of total system availability in Q1 this year and during Q2 it was recorded at almost 98%. This is highly significant breakthrough. One of the major problems with renewables over the years has been to do with issues around intermittency. They have the tendency to be unable to produce electricity consistently at all times of the day. This has meant that traditionally, renewable energy has struggled to adequately assist the UK government with its energy security concerns.

Therefore, the fact that tidal turbines are operating at over 90% of total system availability is highly significant and can be deemed as a great breakthrough for renewable energy generation. 2019 represents the longest period of uninterrupted generation from a multi-megawatt tidal turbine array ever achieved. This breakthrough means that the potential is there with tidal technology to be able to provide the National Grid with a consistent baseload of electricity whilst at the same time helping mitigate the effects of climate change.

The UK has the second largest tidal range in the world after Canada. However, this energy is significantly underutilised. With advancements in the profitability and efficiency of utilising tidal energy, hopefully companies will jump at the opportunity and tidal energy generation will be deployed at a much greater scale across the UK.

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