World’s largest tidal farm to be installed off French coastline

1 Sep 2011

Photographed in Brest is OpenHydro's latest 16m tidal turbine being placed on to OpenHydro's custom designed installation barge, the 'OpenHydro Triskell,'  as part of final preparations in advance of deployment off the coast of Brittany, France

French utility giant EDF is divining into the tidal energy expertise of Irish firm OpenHydro to create a 16m offshore tidal installation off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat, France. When installed in 2012, it will be the world’s largest tidal array, generating power for the French electricity grid.

The alliance, announced this morning, between OpenHydro and EDF, also signals France’s foray into offshore tidal installation.

Tidal technology specialist OpenHydro and EDF said today that the project to deploy the first of four 16m tidal turbines off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat is now in the final stages of preparation. The project is unique in the world and carries a budget in the order of €40m.

The Brittany region, the French State and Europe are all supporting the project in order to achieve for a better knowledge of the marine environment and also in respect of providing regional employment.

Irish company OpenHydro will supply the turbines, each of which has the capacity to generate over 2MW of energy.

Yesterday (31 August 2011) the first turbine assembled at DCNS’ shipyard in Brest was towed from the harbour to commence a series of commissioning tests at sea prior to installation.

OpenHydro and its partner DCNS – naval defence and green energy player DCNS took an 8pc stake in OpenHydro in January 2011 – have now completed the assembly of the first turbine for the Paimpol-Bréhat project.

In June 2011, OpenHydro itself announced plans to to hire 20 new people over the next 12–18 months in line with its plans to scale up production of its tidal turbines.

The assembly in Paimpol-Bréha will be a fusion of the turbine and the subsea base which holds the turbine in position on the seabed. The installation will be achieved using the custom designed installation barge, the ‘OpenHydro Triskell’.

The barge was constructed in France by STX (Lorient) under supervision by DCNS.

OpenHydro tidal turbine for offshore tidal installation France

The turbine will now be towed to the deployment site off the island of Bréhat, near Paimpol in Côtes-d’Armor, where it will be deployed on the seabed at a depth of 35 metres. For two months the turbine and subsea base, which have a combined weight of 850 tonnes and a height of 22 metres, will be tested.

The objective of the test is to prepare for the implementation of array which is scheduled for installation in 2012.

Overall, the electrical output of the completed tidal farm will power 4,000 homes in France.

The Paimpol-Bréhat tidal farm project was initiated by EDF in 2004 and work began in 2008 with the support of local stakeholders.

DCNS has also supported the project by supplying components for the turbine and by providing the Brest facility as a base of operations.

World’s first large-scale, grid-connected tidal energy farm

Commenting on this latest development for OpenHydro, which already has an impressive project portfolio spanning the US, Canada, France, Scotland and the UK’s Channel Islands with utility partners including EDF, Nova Scotia Power and SSE Renewables, CEO James Ives today spoke about the upcoming offshore tidal installation off the French coastline.

“We are delighted to be working with EDF on what is set to be the world’s first large-scale, grid-connected tidal energy farm and France’s first offshore tidal installation. EDF’s vision to develop this exciting project places France and EDF at the forefront of this new form of renewable energy generation.”

Ives said the project confirms the pioneering role EDF is playing in the use of marine and renewable energy and the group’s commitment to sustainable development.

OpenHydro and EDF also pointed out the benefits of tidal power, which they said has the advantage of being invisible, with a low environmental impact and does not disturb other marine activities.

OpenHydro has received support from Ireland’s Ocean Energy Development Unit, which has supported the turbine system design.

More on EDF

The EDF Group is an integrated energy company active in all areas of the business generation, transmission, distribution, energy supply and trading. A leading electricity producer in Europe it has mainly nuclear and hydraulic production facilities in France where 95pc of its electricity output is CO2-free.

EDF’s transmission and distribution subsidiaries in France operate 1,285,000km of ward medium voltage overhead and underground electricity lines and around 100,000 km of high and very high voltage networks. The group is involved in supplying energy and services to approximately 28 million customers in France.

The Group generated consolidated sales of €65.2bn in 2010, of which 44,5pc was achieved outside of France. EDF is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange and is member of the CAC 40.

About OpenHydro

Irish tidal energy technology company OpenHydro operates in the design and manufacture of marine turbines for generating renewable energy from tidal streams. The company’s vision is to deploy arrays of tidal turbines under the world’s oceans, silently and invisibly generating electricity at no cost to the environment.

OpenHydro has achieved a number of industry firsts including being the first to deploy a tidal turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the first to connect to and generate electricity from tidal streams onto the UK national grid and the first to successfully demonstrate a method of safely and economically deploying and recovering turbines directly on the seabed.

The deployment and recovery method delivers a step change in the economics of tidal energy, it believes.

About DCNS

DCNS is a world leader in naval defence and an innovative player in energy. It designs, builds and supports submarines and other naval defence vessels as well as associated systems and infrastructure. The group provides services for naval shipyards and bases. It also develops solutions in civil nuclear engineering and marine renewable energy. Committed to sustainable development, it employs 12,000 people and generates annual revenues of around €2.4bn.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic