Building An Effective Supply Chain For Tidal Device Design And Development

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Does finance distract tidal technology companies from issues associated with device design? How can one visualise the various elements of a device to be eventually manufactured at full size from day one? Explore these and a number of other critical issues in the forthcoming 3rd International Tidal Energy Summit 2009.

For some, tidal energy's time may be just around the corner. For others, tidal power is at an innovation stage and it's an opportunity we can't afford to let slip.

Despite such optimism, the fact remains that tidal energy companies, especially device developers, need to tackle several technical and commercial challenges at this stage.

And one of them is related to developing an effective supply chain and the right project team for it.

Such operational considerations, which are going to be discussed in detail in the forthcoming 3rd International Tidal Energy Summit 2009 in London this year (November 17-18), are quite significant for any device to stand any chance of making it to the marketplace. The project team, as with any technology in its nascent stages, needs to convince potential financiers and/or customers that they can progress from negative to positive returns within a reasonably short period of time.

"All device developers face competition not only from other tidal energy devices but also from offshore wind," says Thomas Royle, commercial development manager, Gurit UK Ltd.

Royle, who is scheduled to speak at the conference, feels developers must be able to demonstrate that they can quickly produce power at a commercially viable rate with a machine which will provide an acceptably short payback period; and be absolutely clear where their particular market lies.

Many teams however have never undertaken a similar project; to design, develop, test and install a full scale, complex device. These projects are a major undertaking requiring a vast range of different expertise and resources. Often the developer is either undecided, or simply doesn't understand where within the complex supply chain it intends to operate.

Any project team with a reasonable chance of success will contain a mix of technical, financial and entrepreneurial skills. Without funding in place, this can present the device developer with an almost insurmountable task; a real chicken and egg situation: No funding = no in-house expertise. No expertise = no route to funding.

Building the project team of course is only part of the story. This team then has to draw together all the pieces of the supply chain jigsaw puzzle which they themselves don't already hold. Identifying companies willing to act as eventual subcontractors is relatively easy of course, but finding those with the necessary expertise, experience and attitude and who are prepared to undertake some of the inevitable unpaid work required to raise necessary funding to build the device may be somewhat harder, especially in a climate of downsizing, redundancies and restricted lending.

"During the critical conceptual design phase of the project it is essential that all members of the team are literally in a room together at very regular intervals if frustrating and time-consuming re-design is to be avoided at a later date. It goes without saying that no detailed design should be commenced until a thorough design brief, or device functional specification has been issued," Royle said.

Unfortunately, without a clear "road map" and highly competent technical and commercial business case, it's likely that many device developers will never raise the necessary funds to bring their invention to fruition.

Royle and a host of other speakers will discuss project development and deployment-related issues during the 3rd International Tidal Energy Summit 2009.

Other speakers include:

  •          Martin Wright, Managing Director, Marine Current Turbines
  •          Richard Parkinson, Company Director, Mojo Maritime Ltd.
  •          Billy Langley, Developer - Marine, RWE npower

For more information, click here:
3rd International Tidal Energy Summit website

or Contact: Abbie Badcock - 44 (0)207 375 7581

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Abbie Badcock
Tidal Today
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