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Memorandum of Understanding signed between Alstom and ScottishPower Renewables for tidal power devices


International engineering company Alstom and ScottishPower Renewables have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to incorporate Alstom’s tidal power devices within the Sound of Islay project.

The tidal array, between the islands of Islay and Jura on the west coast of Scotland, will include up to four of Alstom’s tidal devices, one of which is currently on test at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, alongside four Andritz Hydro Hammerfest turbines. The new development is expected to result in the Sound of Islay project becoming the largest tidal array in the world when fully operational.

Simon Christian, UK Managing Director at Scottish Power Renewables said: “The addition of Alstom to the Islay project signals major benefits for the future growth of the tidal energy sector. Islay will now permit the two leading tidal power technologies to be proven side by side and to take them both to the point of commercialisation. This move further cements Islay’s credentials as the world’s leading marine energy project, and by ensuring that the two leading technologies are developed in Scottish waters it considerably strengthens Scotland’s global lead in this sector.

“This move will also broaden the opportunities for the wider Scottish supply chain, helping to maximise local benefits and support Government ambitions to kick-start a new industry here. Marine energy has the potential to deliver substantial benefits for the Scottish economy as the sector grows and it is essential that we maximise that potential.”

The Islay programme remains on schedule for the first unit to be deployed in late 2015, with full site deployment during 2016. Operations are planned for 25 years and the demonstration project is anticipated to be the launch pad for future larger scale sites around the Scottish coast, with ScottishPower Renewables working on plans for a potential 95MW tidal project off the north coast of Caithness at Duncansby.

“We’re delighted to be working with ScottishPower Renewables on the Sound of Islay project which gives us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of our technology, in Islay tidal environment. We believe the potential for tidal power in the UK is huge and, with our turbine, we have the ability to help our customers make the best of that potential.” stated Alstom Ocean business Vice-President Rob Stevenson.

The Islay development will also utilise tidal devices from Andritz Hydro Hammerfest and will be capable of generating up 10 MW of electricity in total.

ScottishPower Renewables applied to Marine Scotland to build the Sound of Islay project In July 2010 and, after determination, consent was received in March 2011.

The company is committed to working with its community partner, the Islay Energy Trust (IET), to maximise the social and economic benefits of the project for the local community. This includes identifying opportunities for local businesses and liaising with stakeholders to minimise impacts.

Alstom’s prototype tidal turbine consists of a three-bladed, pitch-controlled rotor, with a diameter measuring 18 metres; a standard drive-train and power electronics inside the nacelle. The 22m long nacelle is installed onto a separate seabed-mounted foundation and weighs less than 150 tonnes.

This tidal stream turbine has a number of notable features: First, it is simple, and easy to transport. Its buoyancy means that it is easily installed and retrieved in a single tidal cycle using small vessels, reducing installation and maintenance costs. Secondly, it has an intelligent nacelle. Thrusters rotate the nacelle to reflect the direction of the tide, managing ebb and flood tides seamlessly as well as maximising energy production. Thirdly, with its efficient blades, turbine blade pitching can be altered to control load on the turbine and optimise use of the tidal conditions locally.

A video of Alstom’s tidal device is available here.

About Alstom
Alstom is a global leader in the world of power generation, power transmission and rail infrastructure and sets the benchmark for innovative and environmentally friendly technologies. Alstom builds the fastest train and the highest capacity automated metro in the world, provides turnkey integrated power plant solutions and associated services for a wide variety of energy sources, including hydro, nuclear, gas, coal and wind, and it offers a wide range of solutions for power transmission, with a focus on smart grids. The Group employs 92,000 people in around 100 countries. It had sales of €20 billion and booked close to €22 billion in orders in 2011/12.

Alstom’s UK presence can be traced back to 1889 with the formation of the General Electric Company Ltd and to Stephenson’s Rocket, which was built to serve the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company. Alstom have been on the Rugby site since it opened as the Willans Works in 1897.The merger of GEC and Compagnie D'Electricitie (CGE) in 1989 - created GEC Alsthom, which eventually became Alstom in 1998. Today Alstom has more than 30 key locations across the country and employs around 6,500 people.

Press contact

Paul Ferguson, Media Relations Manager, Scottish Power – Tel 0141 614 4535

Virginie Hourdin / Isabelle Tourancheau - Tel +33 1 41 49 21 36 / 39 95 ;

Jonathan Smith, Head of Media Relations, Alstom UK – Tel 01788 545602 or 07801 775650


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