Tidal power specialist inks French JV

SIMEC Atlantis Energy has announced the creation of a joint venture (JV) company to develop what is billed as Europe's largest planned tidal power project off the northern coast of France.

Tim Cornelius heads up what is now known as Simec Atlantis Energy. Picture: Jon Savage.
Tim Cornelius heads up what is now known as Simec Atlantis Energy. Picture: Jon Savage.

The news came as the tidal power specialist, which has offices in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge, also unveiled plans for significant expansion of its pioneering MeyGen project in the Pentland Firth.

Atlantis has formed the JV company with Development Agency for Normandy (AD Normandy), the regional agency for economic development in Normandy and regional investment fund Normandie Participations, to develop a large-scale project in Raz Blanchard.

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The new company, Normandie Hydrolienne, will set up an operational presence in Normandy. Atlantis will hold a majority stake, and said that combined, the JV has the potential to provide more power than the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station in Somerset, and at a lower cost.

The aim is for Normandie Hydrolienne to eventually harness up to two gigawatts (GW) of power from the Alderney Race, the eight-mile strait between Alderney and La Hague, France, as well as more than one GW of resource from adjacent concessions under the control of the States of Alderney.

Targets of the proposed Raz Blanchard project to be developed by Normandie Hydrolienne include investigating the techno-economic feasibility of a multi-hundred-megawatt (MW) tidal energy project to be located in Raz Blanchard initially, which could be expanded into an even larger project.

Also in its sights are having a full multi-hundred-megawatt array online by 2024 using the next-generation AR2000 turbine, deemed the world’s largest single rotor tidal turbine.

Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis, said: “Raz Blanchard is sitting on a huge amount of renewable, predictable energy”. The project is to be delivered in stages to let the supply chain “grow in line with our expansion plans”.

Atlantis in a separate announcement outlined its plans for the MeyGen project, already the world’s largest tidal stream array.

The firm, which rebranded after joining the business empire of billionaire industrial magnate Sanjeev Gupta, said it will boost project returns and deliver a 40 per cent increase in yield through the installation of “at least” two new Atlantis turbines.

It added that the extension will make “extensive” use of the Scottish supply chain. And when installed, the new turbines, which can generate up to 2MW using more powerful generators and larger rotor diameters, will use a new subsea connection hub and share a single export cable, thereby “significantly” reducing project infrastructure costs.

Atlantis is targeting first power generation through the new subsea connection hub late next year, subject to consents and funding.

The proposed works, known as Project Stroma, will benefit from a €16.8 million (£13.2m) revenue support package from the European Commission. Cornelius said: “Project Stroma will be an important enabler for the subsequent extension of the MeyGen site by a further 80MW, and ultimately to the full site capacity of 400MW”.

He added: “Nearby sites in the Pentland Firth offer significant further growth potential as part of the UK’s total potential of 8,500MW.”