Jacobs to advance development of tidal turbine technology

Image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 A Jacobs-led consortium of industry and academic organisations has been awarded funding from the UK government to help develop a new type of water turbine designed to improve the viability and potential of tidal range power projects. 

The $1m UK Research and Innovation fund (UKRI) SMART grant will support Jacobs’ industrial research with Severn Estuary Tidal Bar Limited, in collaboration with Cardiff University, Liverpool John Moores University and the Tidal Range Alliance (part of the British Hydro Association BHA). 

“Our industrial research will now seek to optimize an economic and environmentally sensitive turbine that enables prospective developers of tidal range power projects to harness the predictable, renewable power of daily tides,” said Jacobs senior vice president Karen Wiemelt. 

“Through our research, scientific, engineering and program management capabilities, Jacobs is ideally placed to advance this technology to continue supporting renewable energy resource development and climate response efforts.”

Combined with further investment from the consortium, the grant will help progress optimization and testing of the Very Low Head turbine (VLHT). 

It will fund a program of computational fluid dynamics modelling, a large-scale test rig and the manufacture of a fully functioning prototype turbine at Jacobs’ Technology & Innovation Centre in Warrington. 

The VLHT is being developed to address challenges faced by several UK tidal range schemes, including the need to reduce relatively high costs, improve turbine performance for bi-directional generation and reduce environmental impacts.

The technology will also support opportunities to capture additional benefits such as short-duration energy storage and protection from rising sea levels for coastal communities and inter-tidal habitats.

Committed to the advancement of new energy technology research and sustainability, Jacobs recently completed the underground infrastructure engineering for The HDD Company for Oregon State University’s PacWave South commercial-scale, ocean wave energy testing facility in Oregon. 

The award-winning facility will be the first pre-permitted, full-scale test facility for wave energy devices in the US. 

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