Nova Innovation secures EC funding for tidal generator

A Scottish specialist in tidal energy generation has secured key European funding for technology that could revolutionise the future of the sector.

Picture: submitted
Picture: submitted

Nova Innovation, which in August announced the deployment of the world’s first fully-operational, grid-connected offshore tidal array in Shetland, has attracted grant funding of almost €2.3 million (£2m) through a European Commission programme.

The project is designed to produce a commercial demonstrator of Nova’s direct drive tidal turbine technology. Direct drive machines are said to offer lower operating costs, improved reliability and increased energy output.

Simon Forrest, managing director of Nova Innovation, which operates from two sites, in Edinburgh and Shetland, said: “We are extremely excited to be embarking on this phase in the commercialisation of our direct drive tidal turbine. This will be a major breakthrough for the sector globally – driving down the cost of tidal energy by improving the reliability, efficiency and maintainability of tidal turbines.”

He added: “We are extremely grateful to the team at the European Commission for their confidence in our technology and continued support following the successful delivery of phase one of the project. We are looking forward to bringing this innovation to a commercial reality so that it can be exported throughout the world.”

Bernd Reichert, head of unit for the EC’s Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme, said: “With the SME Instrument we are looking for an elite of highly innovative small and medium-sized businesses that can transform markets and create rapid growth.

“Nova Innovation is a great example of how SMEs can disrupt the market with an innovative idea and the right technology and we are proud to count Nova Innovation in our programme.”

In 2013, Ian Marchant – the former chief executive of Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), joined Nova as its chairman.

News of the funding comes after green energy was supplied for the first time last week at a pioneering new tidal scheme in the Pentland Firth.

The first of four 1.5 megawatt (MW) turbines was recently installed as part of the initial phase of the 400MW MeyGen tidal array project. It has now been powered up and begun supplying renewable electricity to the national grid. When fully completed the scheme will have up to 269 turbines, with the potential to supply some 175,000 homes.

The MeyGen project is being developed by marine energy firm Atlantis Resources, with backing from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Crown Estate and the UK government’s former Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Environmentalists welcomed the turbine going online, saying it would contribute to efforts to combat climate change. WWF Scotland described it as “a really exciting moment”.