Low Velocity Tidal Solution
The UK has long since been identified as a significant market for offshore renewable energy projects, and there are a growing number of developers from across the globe who are showing a more active interest in developing projects, particularly in Welsh waters.
Over the past 12 months, Wales has been increasingly identified as a potential location for marine energy projects and investors have been attracted by Wales’ excellent wave and tidal stream resource and the Welsh government’s willingness to develop the marine energy sector. One such Company that has secured funding for its tidal energy solution in North Wales is Swedish marine energy company, Minesto.
“The €13 million investment will help to establish a Minesto UK headquarters in North Wales and support commissioning of the first commercial Deep Green project and the roll out of marine power plants in Wales,” highlighted a recent press release from the Company.
“Wales has extensive raw wave and tidal energy resources along our shorelines, and Minesto’s Deep Green project is an excellent example of commercial solutions being developed in Wales to help drive our potential to be a world-leader in the marine energy market,” added Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones.
Established in 2007 by Managing Director, Anders Jansson, in collaboration with Saab Group and Chalmers University of Technology, from its two bases in Gothenburg, Sweden and Northern Ireland, UK, Minesto started the Company after identifying a gap in the market for a tidal solution that can operate at low velocity sites; which are much more common than high velocity sites around the world.
Minesto’s award-winning product, Deep Green, is the only known marine power plant that operates cost efficiently in areas with low velocity currents. Resembling an underwater kite with a wing and turbine, the tidal solution is attached by a tether to a fixed point on the ocean bed, moving swiftly in a figure of eight trajectory in the current.
In recent years, the Welsh government has been keen to exploit the marine energy resources along its 1,200 kilometres of coastline by taking advantage of low velocity tidal currents that are estimated to have the potential to supply more than five percent of the UK’s total electricity demand. According to a report commissioned by the Welsh government, marine energy could boost the Welsh economy by up to £840 million annually after 1GW of capacity has been deployed; and Minesto’s Deep Green tidal solution has the potential to be the perfect fit.
As opposed to other traditional and renewable energy sources, tidal and ocean current energy are considerably more predictable and reliable; with minimal visual, noise and environmental impact. “Deep Green, with its low weight and ability to operate in low velocity currents, has several advantages compared to other tidal and ocean current power plants; the catchment area is much larger, and service and maintenance is more cost efficient, resulting in low electricity production costs, comparable with traditional energy sources,” explained Minesto in 2014.
“Compared to other tidal solutions, we weigh on average 14 tonnes per MW, whereas other solutions can weigh up to 300 tonnes per MW,” the Managing Director said. “As you can imagine, the significant reduction of material required to construct the tidal power structures also means that the capital cost per MW is lower, benefitting Minesto investors and shareholders - BGA Invest, Midroc New Technology, Saab Group and Chalmers University of Technology, amongst others - but more importantly, the electricity consumers.”
In support of its recent developments in North Wales, Minesto has also announced additions to its senior management team to complement this new growth and prepare the Company for a future boom in the tidal energy industry. Announced in September, Fredrik Ahlström has been named Minesto’s Chief Financial Officer, succeeding CFO Charlotta Ekman who will take up the position as Minesto’s Chief Operating Officer.
Commenting on his appointment, Ahlström said: “Minesto offers an innovative technology in an industry with growing importance and global reach. To be part of and contribute to how this completely new approach to renewable energy is developed, implemented and becomes cost effective, feels extremely inspiring. I am very proud to become a member of this dynamic and entrepreneurial team.”
Accompanying this more comprehensive management team comes the promise to accumulate the required skills and experience in the maritime renewables sector in Wales, where Minesto plans on providing around 30 direct jobs in the Anglesey area, “followed by hundreds more valuable opportunities in the long-term in the associated industries like manufacturing, offshore operations and new project development”.
Going into 2016, Minesto will continue to run through the motions to ensure the smooth installation of the first commercial scale 0.5MW power plant in Holyhead Deep, persisting with additional deployments in what will eventually be an array with a total capacity of 10MW, expected to be operational in 2019. When completed, the 10MW array will supply electricity to the equivalent of 8,000 households and will not only create significant employment opportunities in both the construction and operational phases, but demonstrate a new and innovative low velocity technology’s potential to combat climate change.