Tidal turbine

Tidal Turbine Power Take-off Accelerator

The objective of this EU-project is, to validate in a real-world environment an innovative direct drive power take-off (PTO) for a tidal turbine that will take tidal energy a step closer to competing on a commercial basis with other renewable sources of energy generation. The PTO is the component that converts the mechanical power in the prime mover (the tidal turbine rotor) into electricity that is exported into an electricity network. A project of this nature requires organizations with a wide range of skills coming together and working in collaboration. The starting point for this project is a tidal turbine with a conventional high-speed drive train (see picture) developed and demonstrated by Nova Innovation, in partnership with SKF and Siemens; this turbine has been deployed and operated in Nova’s grid-connected tidal site in The Shetland Isles, UK.

The focus of this project will be to replace the gearbox and generator in the turbine with a PTO featuring a high-efficiency, low-maintenance direct drive generator. The generator will feature an innovative, open-to-water design that takes advantage of the cooling properties of the underwater environment and does away with the need for expensive and failure-prone components such as: a gearbox; high pressure seals; and active cooling systems. This will be combined with an innovative subsea power electronic module to convert the electrical power from the generator into grid-compliant electricity; locating this module on the turbine allows each turbine in an array to be controlled independently, increasing device efficiency and array performance. The PTO will consist of a direct-drive generator provided by Nova, a bearing and sealing solution from SKF and power electronics from Siemens.

Subsequently to the development, the turbine will be tested at the IME-Testcenter (ITC). These lab test aim to validate the functionality and design of the turbine, in addition an accelerated lifetime test campaign will be conducted, which will verify the shortened maintenance periods of the novel drivetrain concept. Following the lab test in Aachen the PTO will be delivered to Scotland, where the turbine will be deployed subsea to conduct survivability tests in the real system environment.

The successful development of a direct-drive PTO will significantly increase the commercial viability of tidal turbines. Reducing the cost of operation and maintenance of tidal arrays will increase Return on Investment for turbine customers, allowing turbine technology development companies to sell more devices into an emerging global market.


01. 11. 2016 - 31. 10. 2019

Associated project partners:

Nova Innovation Siemens AG University Edimburgh SKF GmbH TU Delft Wood Group Kenny Inc.

Project promoted by:

Horizon 2020 – Framework Programme for Research and Innovation