Interreg’s biggest ever project Tidal stream Industry enerGisEr pRoject (TIGER), has been on a mission to drive growth for the sector since its launch in late 2019.
The €46 million project is a cross-border partnership between 18 UK and French organisations from research, business and regional agencies. Despite the challenges faced during Covid-19 pandemic, the project has already made an impact for the industry attracting private investment and demonstrating genuine collaboration between technology developers.
TIGER, led by Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, set out to develop, test and further demonstrate tidal stream technologies at selected tidal sites across the Channel area. Whilst tidal stream turbines have been in development for a long time (in the UK they have been grid connected since late 1990’s and powering homes), TIGER will gather hard evidence to verify the cost reduction pathway for tidal stream energy. The project will also confirm how tidal stream can contribute to the 2050 Net Zero targets that both UK and France are working towards.
The project has six development sites – three in the UK (Ramsay Sound, Pembrokeshire, Yarmouth Harbour and PTEC both off the Isle of Wight) and three in France (Paimpol-Brehat, Gulf of Morbihan, both Brittany, and Le Raz-Blanchard in Normandy).
The demonstration sites are focused on harvesting performance and operational data which will help define the value of the tidal energy sectors in the UK and France. TIGER will help technology developers to understand the behaviour of marine life around turbines, as well as confirm the technical performance and economic cost/benefit.
Over the past 18 months the project has marked several successes. TIGER has been supporting French tidal developer HydroQuest, who have been operating their Oceanquest device installed at Paimpol-Brehat for 2 years.
In Raz-Blanchard, TIGER has supported two partners to acquire two commercial scale tidal stream sites and is in the process of applying to vary consents for them. These variations will enable cutting edge tidal technologies to be deployed at these locations in the near future. Both these sites will be vital for proving the commercial viability of tidal energy.
TIGER also has some exciting activity coming up as they are hoping to recover the Deltastream device from Ramsey Sound this summer. While TIGER, partner QED Naval will be relocating its Subhub community scale device from Northern Ireland to Pembroke Dock for refurbishment and fitting of new turbines later this summer before deploying at Yarmouth.
TIGER partner Morbihan Hydro Energies 56 is also applying for consent for the Gulf of Morbihan. This will enable a 3-year research and development campaign so they can start testing and operating the very latest tidal turbine technologies at this site.
All of this should help to develop the evidence and knowledge base needed to kick start the tidal energy sector commercialisation and prove it can significantly contribute to Net Zero targets and green recovery through the creation of a new industry and skilled jobs.
According to a ORE Catapult’s report in 2018, the levelized cost of energy for tidal energy was roughly £300 per MWh and that by the time the sector has deployed a GW worth of tidal stream capacity the price will have come down to the equivalent of nuclear at £90 per MWh.
While currently the technology is expensive when compared to wind and solar energy, tidal stream comes with unique benefits which we are only just starting to be understood, such as predictability. For example, tidal streams can be known with a high level of accuracy 1,000 years in advance. TIGER will investigate how this predictability may form an important piece of the puzzle when looking at the future renewable energy dominated energy systems. This is ever more apparent as future energy security becomes increasingly important.
TIGER is also working together with the UK Marine Energy Council to try and secure a viable route to market for tidal stream projects from UK and French Governments. This will be crucial for providing investor confidence in tidal stream and for supporting further innovation within tidal energy. A tidal stream industry, with the right support, can and will grow into a global market with roots here in Europe with cumulative benefits including industry jobs and exports of technology and expertise.