Arup supports tidal energy experimental rollout in Wales

05 June 2018 3 min. read

Tidal energy represents a huge untapped source of renewable energy – promise has been long in the making however, with the region to, as yet, yield few successful ventures. In a bid to change that, Arup has supported a new venture Minesto, to test their underwater tidal energy rig.

Generating enough sustainable energy will be one of the major challenges of the early 21st century. As it stands, wind and solar energy, networked across vast regions, are picking up the slack left by legacy fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, leaving the scene. However, much work will need to be completed across multiple fronts, from distribution to generation, for our dependence of fossil fuels – and their wide scale negative impacts – to be mitigated.

Wind and solar are only two of a growing body of technologies that provide increasingly cost-effective generation capacity. Tidal energy is a growing body of experimentation that leverage sea currents, largely from tidal shift, to generate energy. One such experiment is Holyhead Deep, located 6.5 kilometres off the coast of Anglesey in an area away from major shipping lines.

Arup supports tidal energy experimental rollout in Wales

The system leverage Deep Green device, developed by Minesto, which operate around 80-100 metres below the surface, with optimal currents of between 1.5–2 m/s mean peak flow. The device will be tethered to the sea floor, and use the lift created by the current to carve figures of eights, generating electricity from a 500 kW propeller driven by the movement. The initial test will see the installation of a test devices, if successful a total of 10 MW of production will initially be sought. Similar projects using the devices could – according to their makers – generate up to 600 GW of capacity in exploitable regions around the UK.

Engineering consulting firm Arup has been tasked with verifying the devices potential, by tapping expertise in naval architecture, structural and marine engineering to give the test its best chances of success. The base from which the device is tethered was constructed by Jones Bros Civil Engineering in a dry dock, and has been towed and lowered onto the site. In addition, the firm has supported the installation of the Arup designed gravity-based structure, which moors Minesto’s DG500 power plant to the foundation.

Commenting on the project, Gordon Jackson, Lead designer of offshore structures, said, “This constitutes significant progress for Minesto and we are happy we could play a part in helping the UK transition towards a more sustainable energy future by designing the base structure. We utilised skills from across our energy team to deliver a detailed design for Minesto and it’s great to see the design now finalised, built and in place.”

DC David Collier, Chief Operating Officer, Minesto, said, “We’re happy to be under way and to have the first piece of hardware installed at the site in Holyhead Deep. This is milestone in the DG500 project.”

Arup has an expansive portfolio of sustainability projects to call on for experience. Recently the firm was involved in the construction of an innovative solar gate in Hull to celebrate the city’s status as UK City of Culture, while earlier in 2018, the firm was commended for its role in the construction of the largest timber building in Western Europe, helping to explore alternatives to the environmentally damaging use of concrete in the built environment.