Scotland recently activated it first first grid-connected, commercial-scale tidal turbine in the swift waters off the Orkney Islands in the far north of the country. The turbine will provide enough energy to power 1000 homes.
The massive machine – its rotors measure nearly 60 feet in diameter – is the world’s most powerful single rotor tidal turbine. Built by Singapore-based Atlantis Resources, the AR1000 is a three-bladed, 75-foot tall, 1,500-metric-ton turbine. The machine will regularly supply 1 megawatt (MW) of power to the grid based on a current of about 8.5 feet per second.
The AR1000 is being tested on the sea floor off the island of Eday. The rotor will undergo trials for up to two years before being moved to its permanent home in the Pentland Firth. If all the tests prove successful, the AR1000 will be part of what Scotland envisions to be a massive tidal energy program, utilizing up to 400 AR1000s with a goal of supplying 400 MW of electricity, enough to power up to 400,000 homes.
Atlantis Resources’ previous machine, a dual-rotor design named the AK1000, could not withstand the swift tides of the North Atlantic and had to be removed from the sea floor after a manufacturing defect caused its rotors to begin to delaminate.