East Cowes based Sustainable Marine Energy Ltd (SME) has successfully completed the first round of sea trials with its innovative tidal energy platform, PLAT-O. The development of PLAT-O and delivery of the sea trials has required support from a large number of businesses and stakeholders from across the UK and further afield, with a particular emphasis on the Solent region. Also based in East Cowes and proud to be associated with the PLAT-O project is Cowes Harbour Commissions’s team at Kingston Marine Services (KMS) who have been assisting SME with its marine operations.
KMS’s Seaclear vessel at the SME PLAT-O deployment
In mid-November, the PLAT-O tidal energy device was launched from SME’s facility at Venture Quays, East Cowes and towed to the test site at Yarmouth. The Kingston Marine Services team then used their Multi-Cat vessel Seaclear as a stable platform to assist PLAT-O operations and host the engineers who were controlling her ballasting and recording data during the trials.
A series of tests were run whilst PLAT-O was submerged to installation depth and moored. To facilitate this, Seaclear had been used to lay a pattern of five heavy moorings, approximately 180m apart east to west and 60m north to south, four for Seaclear and one for the tug assisting in the installation.
Barney Sollars, CHC’s Marine Services Manager at Kingston, said: “The initial deployment fell over the weekend of 15th to 16th November and required us to crew and deploy Seaclear between 0600 on Saturday and 1900 on Sunday. Over the course of the weekend the engineering team from SME were able to test the systems, proving ballasting and de-ballasting routines and monitoring loads on the moorings. PLAT-O was successfully retrieved from her deployment depth and returned to Venture Quays on Sunday afternoon where it will be prepared for its next set of trials.
SME’s PLAT-O deployed on the test site
“All in all, it was a pleasure to work with the dedicated and multi-talented team from SME,” Barney concluded, “and I hope that this is the start of a long association. Finally, I would just like to add a ‘thank you’ to our small KMS team for a great team effort.”
Managing Director of SME, Jason Hayman said: “Barney and the team at Kingston Marine Services did a great job of supporting us during these first sea trials of PLAT-O. We are committed to using local companies and building the local supply chain in the Solent region, so it was great to have the opportunity to work with KMS. These recent operations have reinforced our approach to developing a tidal energy platform that can be installed at tidal sites using locally based vessels and their crews that have an intimate knowledge of working in strong tidal streams.”
SME reports that PLAT-O was designed from the outset with simplicity and flexibility in mind. All installation and maintenance operations for PLAT-O can be carried out with small, readily available vessels, avoiding the need to hire large heavy-lift ships. This also reduces the risks associated with weather downtime for project developers. The results of the sea trials should provide increasing confidence in the potential for tidal streams to provide a commercially viable source of renewable energy.
We await with much interest news on the next steps for SME and PLAT-O.
Find out more about Kingston Marine Services. Learn more about SME and PLAT-O.
Photos: courtesy of Sustainable Marine Energy Ltd