New Hydro

Tocardo, Repsol form partnership for marine power development

Hydrokinetic turbine manufacturer Tocardo International and oil and gas conglomerate Repsol have formed a partnership intended to help further offshore tidal energy development.

Repsol reported that it has about 1,200 MW of offshore wind concessions in the UK and sees its new partnership with Tocardo as an opportunity to expand its New Energy Ventures unit, which focuses on initiatives in renewables and bioenergy.

Expansion of Cherbourg testing site announced

The Raz Blanchard tidal power test site near Cherbourg in northwestern France will receive a 35 hectare expansion, thanks to a US$96.2 million plan unveiled by the Ports of Normandy Authority.

PNA, which owns the ports of Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg, said the decision to increase Raz Blanchard’s size came after Electricite de France and Alstom moved their offshore wind turbine operations to Cherbourg in 2012.

PNA said the development will use reclaimed land to the port’s east and north, extending the port into the outer harbor in the process.

Work on the project is expected to be complete in 2016.

UK might reconsider Severn Estuary tidal power proposal

Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change committee is taking another look at a plan that would result in a US$40 billion electricity-generating barrage placed across the Severn Estuary.

Halfren Power’s proposed Severn Estuary tidal power project could produce as much as 5% of the UK’s energy, according to a scheme that was previously rejected by Parliament in October 2010.

Belgium's "ring island" energy storage scheme will have pumped-storage turbines at the open end of the horseshoe, with a capacity of 300 MW.
Belgium’s “ring island” energy storage scheme will have pumped-storage turbines at the open end of the horseshoe, with a capacity of 300 MW.

The government has since said, however, that the Severn River is open for private tidal power development to help the UK meet its 15% renewable energy by 2020 goal, leading some to push for reconsideration of the scheme now.

Halfren’s proposal – modified slightly from the one rejected in 2010 – would create an 11 mile-long (18 km) barrage between the Vale of Galmorgan and Somerset. The barrage would be dotted with more than 1,000 tidal turbines.

The plan was rejected in 2010 largely due to environmental concerns, although developer Hafren says its new scheme is more fish-friendly and would reduce the amount of inter-tidal mudflats that would be lost for feeding birds.

Sources said a special Act of Parliament would have to be passed for the plan to become a reality.

Belgium considers “ring island” energy storage scheme

Belgian officials are considering the construction of an offshore hydroelectric energy storage project to help the country wean off nuclear power by 2025.

The project – referred to as the “ring island” or “energy atoll” plan by officials – would be built off Belgium’s northern coast near Zeebrugge, and includes the construction of a 3 km-long, horseshoe-shaped island that would have a 30 meter-deep reservoir in its center.

Pumped-storage turbines would be installed in the open end of the horseshoe, giving the hydro project a total generating capacity of about 300 MW.

The project would mainly be used to help store the country’s vast amount of wind capacity, which, as of 2011, equated to more than 1 GW. The excess wind power will be used to pump water from the interior of the horseshoe into the sea. That water will then pass back into the reservoir by running through the hydro turbine units when needed, allowing the island to serve as a battery much like conventional pumped-storage facilities.

Belgium’s federal energy regulator, Elia, said the project is still undergoing feasibility studies but could be completed within seven years if approved.

Crown Estate to invest in wave, tidal development

The Crown Estate is considering an investment of up to US$32 million in wave energy and tidal energy projects in the UK. The decision to invest followed analysis of a report issued in 2012 that suggested a large potential for wave and tidal energy development in the UK.

The Crown Estate’s investment will be in cooperation with other development companies and government grants and will help fund development of two projects with a capacity of more than 3 MW.

To be eligible, potential projects must have gained or be in the process of getting the proper consents and grid connection agreements, as well as a Crown Estate lease agreement. A final decision on investment will be made by early 2014.

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