Tidal Energy Developers Must Choose Reliable Component Suppliers if They are to Suceed

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Composite materials specialists like Gurit advise tidal energy developers not to ignore composite options for their marine power devices, that will improve their technical reliability. Gurit are scheduled to outline their technical applications at the 3rd International Tidal Energy Summit held in London, November 17-18th.

Marine power technology companies are increasingly planning to test and improve the reliability of their devices throughout the development process, from medium scale prototypes through to full-scale commercial devices.

But many of the players in this emerging industry have never designed anything similar, let alone for mass production.

A company like Gurit, which specialises in advanced composite materials, says the designs are often conspicuously small scale prototypes with little thought having been put into how they would be constructed, not only full size, but in quantity.

This can present unnecessary downstream complications as work undertaken previously on a small scale, in a test tank for example, may be less valid once the design is up-scaled, says Thomas Royle, commercial development manager, Gurit UK Ltd

Approach

Royle, who is scheduled to speak at the 3rd International Tidal Energy Summit 2009 in London this year (November 17-18), says the key is to consider how the various elements of the device will eventually be manufactured at full size from day one.

This selection from the beginning, according to Royle, can be as easy as simply visualising the size of the components, estimating their approximate weights and preparing a plan of how they will be built and the final device assembled.

If the design is reasonably well defined, then assistance may be sought from specialists in the appropriate fields.

"This of course is only easy if the team have thought about the full scale device in enough detail to know how it will be built, and from which materials it will be built," said Royle.

He added, "This is where we often see a problem. The option of FRP composites for the manufacture of a device, with the possible exception of blades, is most often not considered. This is almost always due either to a lack of knowledge, or to a perceived need to "stick to what we know" or "weight isn't a problem for us". In our view, simply ignoring one significant material option greatly disadvantages the team and diminishes their technical credibility."

The key lies in opting for reliable components and assemblies at a lower cost.

This can only be achieved by designing an efficient structure utilising the minimum amount of materials possible without harming integrity or reliability and developing the best manufacturing technology to reduce cycle times and thus production costs, according to Royle.

Awareness

Awareness of the benefits offered by FRP composites within the industry has grown significantly, said Royle.

At the same time, he added, "I believe that the enormous difficulty faced by the majority of companies in raising finance has distracted them from issues associated with device design and build."

That some parts of the perceived leading devices are manufactured from composites has probably done a lot for the promotion of composites. But clearly more has to be done to make engineers and designers aware of the properties of this alternative material.

This situation is not restricted to the ocean energy arena but is also present in many other industries, pointed out Royle.

Royle and a host of other speakers will 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:

http://www.tidaltoday.com/ITES/

or Contact: Abbie Badcock - abbie(at)tidaltoday.com or 44 (0)207 375 7581

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Abbie Badcock
Tidal Today
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