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FastBlade tidal turbine testing site opens in Scotland


An image of the £4.6 million FastBlade facility. Scotland has long been associated with North Sea oil and natural gas production. But, it has also evolved into a hub for businesses and projects that focus on marine power and tidal power in recent years.

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A £4.6 million ($5.64 million) facility that can test tidal turbine blades under strenuous conditions has been officially opened, with those behind it hoping it will accelerate the development of marine energy technology and lower costs.

According to the University of Edinburgh, this site is the first “world-first rapid testing facility” for blades of tidal turbines.

In addition, FastBlade’s reaction frame was 75 metric tonnes and could apply “powerful forces” to blades over 50 feet in length.

FastBlade is an alliance between two aerospace companies Babcock International and the university that’s backed by a grant of £1.8 million from the U.K. government. Rosyth houses the testing centre.

The university stated that tests on blades would be done “using a system containing powerful hydraulic cylinders which can, in less then three months, simulate the stresses on structures over two decades at sea.”

Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, who is head of the university’s school of engineering, said FastBlade would be “the world’s first dedicated fatigue test facility for tidal turbine blades.”

He added that this would help “maintain the internationally leading position for Scottish tidal generator developers in the race of finding sources of safe and clean power.”

University of Edinburgh stated that FastBlade technology can also be utilized to evaluate wing components and light bridge sections.

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Scotland has had a long relationship with the North Sea oil-and gas production. But, in recent years, it has also been a hub of companies and projects that focus on tidal and marine energy.

They include tidal energy firm Nova InnovationOrbital Marine power, also working on the project. “most powerful tidal turbine in the world.”

In the waters north of Scotland’s mainland is Orkney, home to the European Marine Energy Centre or EMEC. wave and tidal energy developers can test and assess their tech in the open sea.

European installations of tidal and wave energy capacity jumped in 2021,The ocean energy sector witnessed deployments return to pre-pandemic levels, and substantial investment increases.

Ocean Energy Europe stated in March that Europe had 2.2 megawatts last year of tidal streams capacity, as opposed to only 260 kilowatts by 2020. OEE claimed that 681 kW of wave energy was added, which was threefold more than the 2020 figure.

Worldwide, 3.12 MW of tide stream capacity and 1.38 MW wave energy were online by 2021. The maximum electricity that an installation can generate, and not the amount they are actually generating. Capacity is essentially what it means.

There is much excitement over the potential for marine energy. However, the impact of wave and tidal streams projects are still small in comparison with other renewables.

Europe has installed 17.4 gigawatts worth of wind power in 2021. according to figures from industry body WindEurope.