The aim of the RealTide project is to identify main failure causes of tidal turbines at sea and to provide a step change in the design of key components, namely the blades and power take-off systems, adapting them more accurately to the complex environmental tidal conditions. Advanced monitoring systems will be integrated with these identified sub-systems and together with maintenance strategies will be implemented at outset from the design stage to achieve an increased reliability and improved performance over the full tidal turbine life.

RealTide will push the transition of the tidal sector from a conservative design and maintenance approach, commonly justified by the lack of tidal experience at sea and the ease to turn to Oil&Gas best practices. This trend leads to overestimated designs based on extreme sea events, excessive safety factors, and reactive maintenance strategies, ultimately leading to excessive tidal energy costs. Overly conservative design can only be streamlined with a full understanding of tidal conditions and the spatial and temporal variation of these conditions. And whilst reductions in safety factors will be realised across a wide range of sub-systems, certain aspects of tidal conditions are currently underestimated, such as the impact of turbulence on fatigue loadings and accelerations of the tidal rotor components.

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RealTide is a response to the Horizon 2020 Competitive Low-carbon Energy call, topic "Developing the next generation technologies of renewable electricity and heating/cooling" (LCE-07-2016) and was funded by the European Commission. RealTide runs from 1st January 2018 to 31st December 2020.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727689

Recent advances in the measurement of flow in highly energetic tidal currents allows the effects of both turbulence and ocean waves to be characterised. This provides improved understanding of the causes of failure in tidal devices, including blades, seals, bearings, PTO & other critical components. Combining this new understanding with state-of-the-art condition monitoring systems will allow fault-tolerant, resilient, components to be designed.

The project will combine innovation in flow measurement, condition monitoring and turbine components with tide-to-wire modelling to design reliable power take off & control systems delivering grid compliant energy. This is only possible by the inclusion of partners with:

  1. a proven track record of high resolution flow measurements in the highly energetic waters of the EMEC tidal site,
  2. access to open- sea pilot test site and turbine data,
  3. world leading capabilities in testing of materials for the marine environment, in design, construction, installation and operation of tidal devices, condition monitoring / condition based maintenance, world leading tank test facilities, and a detailed understanding of technology verification &amp certification in offshore energy.

Machines using the outputs of the project will be a key part of new bankable projects to deliver electricity at a highly competitive LCE.

Through the design of reliable intelligent blades and components with integrated condition monitoring, RealTide will for the first time, provide know how to support the development of Real Turbines, operating in Real Seas and under Real Conditions.

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