UK-based Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd (NREL) is counting down to the deployment of the first full-scale demonstrator of its world-leading Proteus tidal stream power plant in the Humber Estuary at Hull.
UK-based Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd (NREL) is counting down to the deployment of the first full-scale demonstrator of its world-leading Proteus tidal stream power plant in the Humber Estuary at Hull. Currently in the final stages of construction by Wear Dock and Engineering in Sunderland, the plan is to bring the completed unit to Hull by early January with commissioning shortly afterwards.
A major benefit offered by tidal stream power, like that utilised in Neptune's Proteus, is the delivery of a regular, predictable, source of renewable energy
compared to intermittent options such as wind. Once moored, the state-of-the-art Proteus is able to work equally well in ebb and flow currents and consists of a steel hull, vertically mounted turbine, and buoyancy chambers.
Extensive model tests at the University of Hull's Total Environmental Simulator research facility have allowed the design to be continuously refined. The
result is that the innovative design has the potential to generate 30 per cent more electricity compared to traditional hydro designs. In addition, patented flow control shutters on the Proteus maximise the area of water hitting the turbines to increase torque and power output.
Created specifically for estuarine sites, Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd believes that the Proteus offers a number of practical advantages including: the proximity of the generating capacity to the grid or distribution supply points; the fact that it can be moored in relatively sheltered locations means that waves are not impacting on the structure - with the potential for damage - and being close to land simplifies the installation and maintenance process.
Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd selected the Humber Estuary for the first deployment of Proteus as, given its depth and tidal flow, it is considered one of the best locations in the British Isles for tidal stream power. Once in situ the advanced Neptune Proteus NP1000 should generate at least 1000 MWh/year.
Work on the full-scale Proteus Demonstrator began at Wear Dock and Engineering in the South Docks, Sunderland at the end of May.
Said Harry Wilson, Managing Director, Wear Dock and Engineering: "We are very pleased to have been awarded the contract for the construction of the Proteus Demonstrator, based on designs by naval architects IMT Marine, especially as this is the first project of its kind we have undertaken. Thanks to the efforts of our workforce we are on track to launch the demonstrator in Sunderland later this month. The work from Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd ties in very well with our desire to diversify the projects we undertake in the yard beyond traditional ship repair. There is little doubt that renewable energy is going to be a major growth area for us in the years ahead."
When it comes to the environment, as the Proteus is a moored system, according to Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd the demonstrator will have a minimal impact. Also, the bulk of its mainly steel construction can be recycled in the future.
Said Nigel Petrie, Chairman, Neptune Renewable Energy Ltd: "The deployment of the Proteus Demonstrator is undoubtedly a major landmark and will serve as a key platform for the company's ongoing success. This is very much the culmination of a long-term research and development programme; in fact the demonstrator will be commissioned almost three years to the day after the first 10th and 40th scale models of the Proteus were tested by the University of Hull.
"Throughout the process, at a local authority level, Hull City Council have been extremely supportive of our efforts. They can clearly see the economic and
practical benefits of Proteus and have already agreed that the output from the demonstrator will help to power The Deep Submarium in Hull.
"Upon the completion of the demonstrator trials, the aim is to have the world's first tidal stream power array, consisting of advanced Proteus designs, up and running close to The Deep in the Humber during 2011-12.
"We believe that the future for Neptune Renewable Energy and Proteus is extremely bright, given the renewed focus by Government on renewable power generation. Our approach offers an extremely favourable return on investment at protected estuarine sites, compared to the equivalent capacity of wind power, and we are confident that this technology can be successfully applied in other sites in the UK and, potentially, worldwide."