European Commission gives go-ahead to EnFAIT tidal energy project

The European Commission has given its approval to the Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal (EnFAIT) tidal energy project to proceed to the next stage that will see an extension of the Bluemull Sound array to six turbines.

The EnFAIT project, which builds on Nova Innovation’s operational three-turbine tidal power station off the Shetland Islands in Scotland, aims to prove that the reliability and availability of tidal energy arrays can be significantly increased and that the cost of tidal energy can be reduced by at least 40%.

The layout of the turbines will be adjusted to enable array interactions and optimisation to be studied for the very first time at an operational tidal energy site, according to the project partners, who plan to demonstrate that high array reliability and availability can be achieved using best practice maintenance regimes over the project’s upcoming four-year stage.

The European Commission’s green light follows EnFAIT’s first full year of design development and operations, and a ‘go/no go’ gateway review by three independent technical experts, carried out to confirm that the €20 million project – led by Nova Innovation in collaboration with eight European partner organisations – had progressed as planned and that it has “the key ingredients for success” in place.

Simon Forrest, Nova Innovation’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Working with our partners, we’ve made significant progress in Year 1 in putting in place the project’s operational and technical foundations, and we are extremely excited to be moving into the next stages, in which we’ll focus on scaling up and optimising the array configuration.”

Over the project’s first year, the EnFAIT partners re-instrumented the existing three turbines to collect improved performance data, undertook extensive tidal resource monitoring activities to build up a detailed understanding of the array site and its characteristics, obtained the necessary site consents and permissions for the planned expansion of the array to six turbines, and developed and verified detailed designs for the new turbines and their subsea connections.

“I’d like to thank our consortium partners and the European Commission for their continued support for this truly ground-breaking project that represents a major step change in the development of the European tidal energy sector,” Forrest said.

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