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Dynamic Marine Component test rig

Exeter experts to play key role in ‘game-changing’ tidal energy project for Channel regions

Renewable Energy experts from the University of Exeter will play a pivotal role in a new “game-changing” tidal energy project, it has been confirmed.

The £40 million collaborative project, called TIGER (Tidal stream Industry enerGisEr pRoject), received official approval today (Wednesday, October 16 2019).

The ambitious project aims to drive the growth of tidal stream energy (TSE) by developing new technologies to exploit the potential of tidal stream energy.

It will also extend the existing tidal capacity of sites around the Channel region by 2.8 MW - enough to supply the average power requirement for almost 6000 homes for an hour - with the potential to add a further 5 MW.

The project, which received €28 million from the European Regional Development Fund, is coordinated by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

Dr Philipp Thies, Professor Lars Johanning, Dr Helen Smith and Dr Ian Ashton from the University of Exeter’s Offshore Renewable Energy group, based at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, will take part in the project.

Dr Thies said: “The project will benefit the tidal sector industry, enabling technology installations and collaborations between universities and technology developers.

“Through our offshore engineering expertise in tidal energy measurements, numerical modelling and component testing we will directly support the companies and stakeholders in TIGER.”

The TIGER venture involves submerging turbines off the coast to harness the energy of tidal currents, that are then converted into electricity. Coastal communities used as ports of deployment will experience knock on economic benefits investment and job creation.

Proving tidal energy can be cost-effective on a large scale could open the door for it to become the renewable energy of choice in coastal locations with strong tidal resources across the world, making for a greener planet.

Carolyn Reid, Programme Manager for Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, said: “This is a hugely ambitious project that will demonstrate the benefits of harnessing tidal energy on a large scale. The project has a clear link to the programme objective to increase the development and uptake of existing or new low-carbon technologies in sectors that have the highest potential for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 

“TIGER is a shining example of how European funding has enabled collaboration between organisations in the UK and France that may otherwise never have happened, and in this case could have a massive impact on reducing the carbon footprint beyond the lifetime of the project, and beyond the Channel area.”

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research & Innovation Director for ORE Catapult, said:  “We are delighted to be spearheading this game-changing tidal energy project.  Developing successful UK and European collaborations is important for the UK tidal energy industry and will help accelerate the economic, environmental and societal benefits which can be derived from this emerging sector.  

“This project brings together multiple organisations from across the UK and French supply chains to work towards validating the pathway to commercialisation, ensuring that sustainable, predictable and affordable tidal electricity plays a role our future energy mix as we tackle the global climate emergency.”

Led by the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult Ltd, based in Hayle, Cornwall, TIGER comprises 19 partners from across the UK and France spanning turbine developers, ocean energy demonstration sites, research organisations, as well as local and regional authorities. Partners are meeting today (October 16) to start work on the project.

Date: 16 October 2019