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Aquantis signs up to European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) tidal demo testing in Orkney; in doing so it will be first USA-based ocean energy developer to test at the site

By Philip Murray

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EMEC's Shapinsay test site.
EMEC's Shapinsay test site.

A US-based tidal energy developer has signed a deal to test its next generation energy converter at Orkney's European Marine Energy Centre.

Aquantis, which is based in California, will become the first US ocean energy developer to physically test at the Orkney centre, when it puts its tidal power tug through its paces at the Shapinsay Sound scale test site over six months next year.

Peter Stricker, Aquantis’ chief commercial officer, said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to test at the European Marine Energy Centre's (EMEC) world-class facility and work with the EMEC team.

"The power tug represents a number of design breakthroughs innovated through the SHARKS program, aimed at reducing the cost of energy.

"We will observe performance of this system for the first time operating in open water at the Shapinsay Sound test site. This promises to be a truly exciting moment for the Aquantis team as we prepare for deployment into the UK market.”

The company's tidal power tug is a second generation floating tidal energy converter. The spar-buoy platform supports a 10-meter diameter, two-bladed variable-pitch rotor and 160 kW drivetrain.

By testing at the EMEC scale test site, Aquantis will gain experience of marine operations, while generating performance data to validate its loading and dynamics model, controller functionality and load mitigation techniques.

EMEC is expected to support Aquantis’ testing with tidal resource monitoring and the provision of its test support buoy – enabling remote communications with the device, data relay via its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and safe dissipation of power generated on site.

EMEC will also provide project management, operations, consenting, monitoring and performance testing support.

Richy Ainsworth, US project engineer, EMEC, said: “While EMEC has long supported the development of marine energy in the United States, Aquantis will be the first US ocean energy developer to physically test at EMEC.

The Shapinsay Sound test site provides a perfect testing ground for Aquantis. The scale test sites are designed to provide developers with their first real-sea experiences, in gentler conditions to our grid-connected sites, so that they can get to grips with installation processes, test survivability in the gritty, salty sea environment and collect data to verify models developed during tank testing.

"We’ll be working closely with Aquantis to help the team prepare for their demonstration and look forward to welcoming them to Orkney next year.”

The demonstration of Aquantis’ tidal power tug is supported by the Interreg North-West Europe’s Ocean DEMO project, led by EMEC.

The tidal turbine is being developed via the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) SHARKS (Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems) programme.

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