OpenHydro Open Centre Turbine at EMEC tidal test site (Credit: Mike Brookes-Roper)
Just a day after successfully deploying an in-stream tidal turbine in Canadian waters, Naval Energies has decided to cease all investments in tidal turbines as it has determined that the market for this technology is closing.
The French marine renewables specialist announced its decision today, saying that it plans to focus on floating wind power and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), technologies which, according to CEO Laurent Schneider-Maunoury, are receiving support from the public authorities, unlike tidal energy.
“The deterioration of the market, in France and around the world throughout the recent months, has been reflected in a lack of commercial prospects over the long term. This evolution means that we alone can no longer finance the development of the tidal-turbine activity,” Schneider-Maunoury stated.
Naval Energies’ decision may come as a surprise given that a month ago the company inaugurated an assembly plant for tidal turbines in Cherbourg, France. At the time, though, Schneider-Maunoury noted that Irish subsidiary OpenHydro is in urgent need of commercial visibility and hoped for the French government to launch a call for tenders for commercial farms.
Today, Naval Energies pointed out that French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) only foresees 100 MW to 150 MW of tidal turbines to be installed between now and 2028. This would translate into orders for just 50 turbines of 2 MW each over 10 years.
The move to abandon tidal energy mostly affects Ireland-based OpenHydro. The High Court in Ireland has appointed on Thursday provisional liquidators to OpenHydro Group Ltd and its unit OpenHydro Technologies Ltd, which have debts of about EUR 280 million (USD 326m), a report by The Irish Times says.
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland, said it “is gutted” to hear the news about the liquidation of OpenHydro, which is the centre’s first and longest standing tidal energy client. However, EMEC said that “tidal energy is on the cusp of becoming a viable industry”.