Set up in 2009 SEAI’s Prototype Development Fund has awarded €13.7 million to over a hundred ocean energy projects. There are currently 28 active projects supported through the scheme. This article, the first of a series, will feature projects supported through the Prototype Development Fund and the organisations behind them.
GKinetic Energy is an Irish company, based in Limerick, developing a floating tidal energy device called the GKinetic OC1 turbine. Between 2015 and 2017 GKinetic were awarded two grants through the Prototype Development Fund amounting to €195,162. The projects concerned the design and tow testing of a 1:10 scale model of their tidal turbine device in Limerick docks. This testing followed on from the initial numerical modelling and small scale model testing completed at NUI Galway and the IFREMER flow tank facility in France.
The GKinetic OC1 turbine comprises of two submerged vertical axis tidal turbines mounted on either side of a teardrop shaped bluff body. This then channels and accelerates flow towards the vertical axis turbines. A blade pitch control mechanism is then used to optimise the angle of attack of the turbines blades.
Grant funding from SEAI supported the deployment of the GKinetic OC1 turbine at the Limerick Docks for two sets of tests. The first set took place between October 2015 and January 2016, the second between August and October 2017. The 150 tow tests were completed with a total towing recording time of 843 minutes. The total operational time of the device was 39.9 hours. The testing aimed to evaluate the performance and survivability of redesigned turbine components and the turbine power production. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) data was also collected during the testing to validate a 3D CFD Model of the device. The performance of the deployment vessel used during the tow testing was also evaluated during the project.
Currently, GKinetic are working with their strategic partner, DesignPro Renewables to develop, test and commercialise a 25kW and a 60kW version of their turbine concept. DesignPro plans to install the 25kW device at the SEENEOH test site in the French city of Bordeaux in September 2018. The full scale device aims to have a power capacity of 500kW.
Speaking about impact of the Prototype Development Fund on the development of their technology Vincent Mc Cormack, Managing Director of GKinetic , said: “The Prototype Development Fund has given GKinetic a great start and the opportunity to rapidly move through TRL levels by collaborating with key industry and academic partners on the research and development of our tidal turbines. Without the support of the SEAI Prototype Development Fund, we would not have been able to progress our R & D efforts. SEAI's support and encouragement has helped us work toward our vision to develop our technology to a utility scale.“
GKinetic are also participating in the +CityxChange project that recently secured €20 million (€6.5 million for Limerick) from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the call topic ‘Smart cities and communities’. A further €10 million in funding will be provided by the project partners. The project will begin in January 2019 and last for five years.
The +CityxChange will develop more sustainable cities by using digital services in two “lighthouse cities”, Limerick and Trondheim, Norway. These lighthouse cities will work with five other “follower cities”, Alba Iulia (Romania), Pisek (Czech Republic), Sestao (Spain), Smolyan (Bulgaria) and Voru (Estonia) to achieve the objectives of the project. Cities will investigate “how to become smart positive energy cities that use digital services to improve quality of life for, and together with, all of their citizens”. Cities will aim to generate more energy than they consume and exchange experiences with cities across Europe.
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology will lead the project in collaboration with 11 large enterprises, 9 SMEs, 3 non-for-profit organisations and 2 universities: IES R&D, Powel AS, University of Limerick, Energy Agency of Plovdiv, Future Analytics Consulting, Research2Market Solutions, ISOCARP, TrønderEnergi AS, ABB Norway, AtB, AVIS Budget Group, Statkraft Varme AS, ESB Innovation RoI Ltd, ESB Networks, Ove Arup & Partners SAU, FourC AS, R.Kjeldsberg, Smart MPower, Space Engagers, Colaborativa, Officinae Verdi, IOTA Foundation, NHP Eiendom, and GKinetic Energy Ltd.
Through +CityxChange, GKinetic aim to deploy one of their tidal turbines in the Shannon Estuary to provide power to Limerick city centre. This would be the first grid connected tidal turbine deployed in the Republic of Ireland.
Find out more about the +CityxChange project here.