Apollo’s Technical Director talks Tidal Turbines and WFW

As summer draws to a close, Phil Westmorland reflects on his summer of work and pleasure and its connection to Apollo and our role in the sustainable future.

In this new world we find ourselves in I have continued our annual holiday in our area of paradise, Pembrokeshire in South West Wales.

Last week and this week I have been WFW (Working from Wales). My family continue enjoying the sea and beach on the campsite, while I work 3 miles down the road in a cottage with full broadband and connectivity. #WorkLifeBalance to the max – I even managed to squeeze in a Surf after work yesterday!

One of my activities in Wales was to swim across Whitesand’s Bay and back.

A 4km undertaking and staring into the abyss for a little over an hour. Great fun!

As part of my post-training activity, to see how deep the abyss was, I found a map of the route and stumbled across a tidal turbine!!!

Reflecting on this tidal turbine spot, I wondered how many other demonstrators/test cases have been going on in UK waters over the past decade of which we have a vast and plentiful coastline to explore. The answer is perhaps not blowing in the wind (ahem!) but would lie with Nigel Robinson, Apollo’s Sustainable Energy Director – I’m sure a follow-up post looking at what the UK is doing in this area will follow!

The location of this turbine is ideal as it is in a deep channel between mainland Wales and Ramsey Island.

It is easy to see the strength of the current with a very visible current flow from the cliff path and standing waves generated with the tide.

The turbine has been installed for several years now (2015) and I believe it is currently not producing electricity for a variety of reasons including mechanical defects. The company went into administration but the project has recently gathered new traction. There is new investment and with the latest advancements in this area, I’m sure something could be back up and running soon.

And not only that, the turbine currently in situe (known affectionately as the “Welsh Daffodil”) is soon to be removed and bought back to shore where it will be scrutinised at a forensic level with a view to being put back into production. Probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to understand the effects of the marine environment on a tidal turbine that has been in its position for so long.

Many marine mammals live in this stretch of water. According to the environmental impact statement, there is little effect on the local marine life which I can attest to as seals are constantly spotted in the waves near the campsite beach. I was even followed by a school of porpoises on another swim but that is a story for another day……

The impact of this energy device on this beautiful part of the world is barely noticeable. There is a cable that runs up past the lifeboat station – but that is all.

The energy transition from carbon-intensive to more sustainable forms has been ongoing for decades and the UK has been leading the charge for several years. Apollo has supported many clients with ocean energy capture solutions for 11 years now, and we will continue to support our clients in this area while we build and engineer our sustainable future.

If you want to know more about our capability across Ocean Energy and the Energy Transition, contact renewables@apollo-oe.com