Introducing the world's first subsea tidal platform designed specifically to overcome the tidal energy's toughest challenges.
If tidal energy is such a logical source of renewable, reliable energy, why isn't it being used yet? The problem has always been two-fold:
How can turbines be built strong enough to withstand storm force seas and depths exceeding 40 metres whilst capturing the optimum energy generated by the strongest tides?
How can the current costs be reduced to make tidal energy a viable option to power our homes and businesses?
The potential of tidal energy is vast, yet no one system has yet managed to overcome the huge installation and maintenance costs involved in accessing and harvesting this natural resource.
The most popular approach to harvesting tidal energy so far has been to build turbines similar to wind turbines and plant them in the seabed. The problem with this approach is that the costs associated with installing them are huge but crucially the turbines are not actually placed in the optimum position in the water column to harvest the maximum tidal power.
We've solved both of these problems by designing a buoyant platform that will be taut moored to the seabed using an anchoring solution, also designed by our clever team of engineers. We've called this platform PLAT-O, derived from platform for ocean technology. PLAT-O will have mounted on it tidal energy convertors, more familiarly called turbines. The number of turbines is flexible.
It also means that we have the flexibility to work with a number of the leader turbines manufacturers and to use new technology as soon as it becomes available. We are currently testing with two 50KW SIT SCHOTTEL Instream Turbines supplied by SCHOTTEL HYDRO.
PLAT-O was designed from the outset with simplicity and flexibility in mind. All of the installation operations for PLAT-O can be carried out with small, readily available vessels, not huge ones costing tens of thousands each time they leave the dock. This means that any delays to operations due to bad weather do not waste chunks of money by having expensive vessels on standby.
Because of our clever anchoring solutions, we are not reliant on a certain type of seabed; we can moor PLAT-O to rock, shingle or sand. We are also not limited by depth, which is a huge advantage, as over 2/3rds of the UK's resource is located in a few large sites that are over 40 metres deep. These sites (such as the Pentland Firth Deep) typically have faster tidal stream speeds and, as the extractable power is proportional to the cube of the tidal stream velocity, these have a much higher energy density. So, it's really important to be able to harvest energy from these places.
PLAT-O has been designed with the community scale market in mind. Our prototype is 100kW but the next platform we build will be 200kW and then we will build out arrays of platforms, meaning that there will be multiple PLAT-O systems at one site and we can scale up capacity to generate as much electricity as required.