• One of the world’s first tidal arrays developed by EDF is set to operate at the end of 2015 near Paimpol-Bréhat in Brittany, France;
• GE Power Conversion is chosen to provide the complete electrical conversion system, both subsea and onshore;
• HVDC connection from the turbine to shore significantly reduces energy loss, offering remarkable improvements in energy efficiency.
2015 is turning out to be an exciting year for tidal energy as one of the world’s first tidal arrays near Paimpol-Bréhat, France, will be deployed. Delivering a new generation of renewable energy, the project will harness the predictable power of ocean tides to generate electricity.
All eyes in the energy world are turned to the small French fishing town of Ploubazlanec in Brittany, where development of the tidal demonstrator farm kicked off under the leadership of Electricité de France S.A. (EDF). GE Power Conversion has been in partnership with EDF since the very beginning and is now on track for finalization of the electrical conversion system, due for summer 2015. GE’s Belfort team is working diligently to perform relevant tests before installing the system both subsea and onshore.
Two OpenHydro 16-metre turbines will be connected to a common subsea converter that will transform the current to high voltage direct current (HVDC) to provide 1MW of electricity. The power will be transmitted to the onshore station and eventually feed into the electrical grid. GE Power Conversion is undertaking development of the subsea converter as well as the onshore station.
The size of the equipment is astonishing the enclosure for the subsea converter is 9 meters in length, 5 meters in width and 4 meters in height although still tiny compared to the tidal turbine which measures 16 meters in diameter, provided by OpenHydro, part of the DCNS Group.
The converter will be delivered to Brest and be installed by DCNS on the specific foundation designed by OpenHydro, which supports both the convertor and the 16-meter turbine.
The turbine comprises four key components: a horizontal axis rotor, a direct-drive permanent magnet generator, a hydrodynamic duct and a subsea gravity base foundation. Simplicity is a key advantage of the device, with no lubricants, seals or gearbox, resulting in reduced maintenance requirements.
The turbines with the converter are placed directly onto the seabed, deep enough so as not to pose a hazard to shipping.
Among the advanced technology employed to put the complex electrical design into action is GE’s MV3000 low voltage drive. Together with other electrical components, it enables the low voltage alternating current, generated by the Open-Centre Turbines to be transformed into HVDC. The electrical current will then be transported through the 16km subsea cable to the onshore station. HVDC reduces significantly energy loss and therefore offers remarkable energy savings over long distance power transmission.
Being among the first projects of its kind, it was up to GE Power Conversion to conceptualize, assemble and test the highly advanced subsea converter, drawing from a wealth of expertise in marine and subsea projects.
“Reliability is of the utmost importance in this project; once the equipment is installed on the seabed it has to run in full autonomy for a minimum of 5 years duration,” said Régis Baudet, Project Manager, EDF. “We have full confidence in GE Power Conversion to design and build a reliable and robust system that will allow continuous power generation and other operation requirements.”
The MV7000, once installed in the onshore substation, converts HVDC back to HVAC which is compatible with the French grid.
“GE Power Conversion’s advanced engineering coupled with customized solution brings optimized power conversion efficiency,” said Frédéric Navarro, Project Director, GE Power Conversion. “While 1MW power output transmitted over 16km distance seems modest, GE’s engineering design for this project sets the foundation for future applications with higher power and longer distance transmission.”
Furthermore, GE’s subsea converter also has the potential for future upgrades, as its design leaves the possibility of connecting with two additional turbines.
“As one of the first tidal farms of its kind to soon start operation, it is a big step forward for GE to position itself in the growing tidal market,” said John Chatwin, Power & Industry Segment Leader, GE Power Conversion. “Bringing its robust and innovative products and systems built on proven technology, GE is committed to unlocking the huge potential of tidal energy to power the world.”
About GE Power Conversion
GE’s Power Conversion business (gepowerconversion.com) applies the science and systems of power conversion to help drive the electrification of the world’s energy infrastructure by designing and delivering advanced motor, drive and control technologies that evolve today’s industrial processes for a cleaner, more productive future. Serving specialized sectors such as energy, marine, oil and gas, renewables and industry, through customized solutions and advanced technologies, GE Power Conversion partners with customers to maximize efficiency.
GE (ge.com) imagines things others don’t, builds things others can’t and delivers outcomes that make the world work better. GE brings together the physical and digital worlds in ways no other company can. In its labs and factories and on the ground with customers, GE is inventing the next industrial era to move, power, build and cure the world.
Contact: Wenlin Jin - GE Energy Management
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