ABB invests in tidal power

MARCH 14, 2013 — ABB has led a $12 million investment in Scotrenewables Tidal Power, a provider of tidal turbine systems, to support the roll out of a new hydrokinetic device and to expand ABB's renewable energy assets.

60 MW multi-turbine tidal energy farm

ABB's participation was made through its venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), which invests in early and growth stage companies with technologies of strategic importance to the industries it serves. The investment round included participation from existing strategic investors Total New Energies, a unit of oil major Total, and Fred. Olsen, the Norwegian maritime conglomerate, through its associated Bonheur and Ganger Rolf holding companies.

The funding is being used specifically to roll out a larger and more advanced tidal energy conversion system known as the SR2000. The floating 2 MW turbine includes a number of innovations to deliver simplicity, low mass, rapid connection/disconnection and heightened survivability. Scheduled for completion next year, it will be the first of a number of commercial units installed in the Lashy Sound tidal demonstrator project in Orkney, where Scotrenewables is based.

"ABB led a comprehensive review of tidal stream technology and concluded that Scotrenewables was well below its peers in capital outlay per megawatt and overall power delivery cost," said Grant Allen, senior VP of ATV. "Scotrenewables has designed a remarkably robust hydrokinetic unit which, by nature of its easily accessible floating design bypasses many of the maintenance issues that confront other marine startups."

ABB says that aligning with Scotrenewables is a natural, strategic fit for ABB given the switchgear, transformers, cabling and other electrical gear being used in the containerized design. Through its U.K. operations, ABB engineers have already been working closely with the company on packaging and integration. The ATV investment complements current competencies in marine energy harvesting through ABB's prior early-stage investment in Aquamarine, a specialist in near-shore wave power development.

Barry Johnson, CEO of Scotrenewables, remarked, "We are delighted to have concluded this major investment deal and to have secured funding for the next vital stage in the development of our innovative floating tidal technology. ABB's involvement allows us to tackle complex cabling and grid connection challenges, thereby speeding the technology development process."