In 2017, RSK began collaboration with nine leading European industrial, academic and research organisations on a €20.2-million project named Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal (EnFAIT). The five-year project aims to demonstrate that developing, operating and decommissioning the world’s largest tidal array, which will have six submerged turbines, will be a cost-reduction pathway for tidal energy and to show that it can be financially competitive with other forms of renewable energy. As a central party in the pan-European consortium, RSK leads the environmental and socio-economic appraisal of the approach.
The UK-based scheme will expand an operational tidal power station in Bluemull Sound off the Shetland Islands in Scotland: the world’s first grid-connected offshore array of submerged energy turbines.
Nova Innovation, a world-leading tidal power company, manages the project. In October 2020, the company announced that it had successfully installed its commercial direct-drive tidal turbine, Eunice, and that it was already powering homes across Scotland’s most northerly isles. Remarkably, the data show that the direct-drive turbine slashes the cost of tidal energy by a third, which makes tidal energy financially competitive with fossil fuels. Eunice is the first of three turbines set to double the size of the Shetland Tidal Array as part of the EnFAIT project, thereby making tidal energy a commercial reality.
Simon Forrest, Nova co-founder, said the EU-wide-collaboration project had achieved what many had presumed was impossible. “We are generating electricity from the immense power of our seas. Our proven technology is displacing fossil fuels and changing the way that we power our lives. By 2030, tidal energy will be cheaper than nuclear power and fossil fuels, thus providing cleaner and more sustainable energy for coastal communities around the world.”
“By the project’s finish in 2022,” Matthijs Soede of the European Commission, added, “Nova Innovation and its partners will have demonstrated a clear cost-reduction pathway for tidal energy. The project will deliver a bank of evidence for its environmental and socio-economic benefits. We should be able to apply these learnings and technologies to settings across the world – putting tidal power firmly at the forefront of our energy transition.”