The following are some frequently asked questions about Tidal Ventures, which will give you more insight into the project, the benefits of tidal energy and the positive impact we plan for jobs and the local community.

If you have any queries or would like to talk to our local liaison please get in touch —

General queries: tidalventures@brookfieldrenewable.com

Project queries: contact Cathal Gallagher
Project Manager on: +353 (0) 21 422 3650

Media queries: contact Suzie Fisher
dcp strategic communication on:
+44 (0) 28 9037 0137

1About the Project

Who is Tidal Ventures?

Tidal Ventures is a joint venture (JV) partnership between Brookfield Renewable and OpenHydro, a DCNS company, set-up in 2010 following a successful application to The Crown Estate to investigate the potential of installing a 100MW tidal array offshore of Torr Head on the north coast of Co Antrim.

Through this partnership, Tidal Ventures can draw on a large team of engineers and technicians working specifically on turbine design, development, manufacturing and installation. Our teams have many years of experience and a proven track record in identifying and developing sources of renewable energy.

What will this award allow Tidal Ventures to do?

The award of the Agreement for Lease (AfL) enables Tidal Ventures to undertake a detailed assessment of the area offshore of Torr Head; to examine its suitability for the development of a 100 MW tidal energy array.

This will include an assessment of environmental considerations; the amount of energy which can be captured from the sea, offshore seabed assessments and, most importantly, on-going engagement with local and national stakeholders to help design the most appropriate tidal array for the location.

What are the next steps?

Our agreement with The Crown Estate provides Tidal Ventures with exclusive rights to investigate the development of a commercial scale 100MW tidal energy array over a five year period. During this time, we will endeavour to complete all of the necessary consenting activities required to submit the relevant Applications for permission to construct the project.

What are the key milestones for the process?

The timelines for this project are dependent on many different factors. However, we are working towards the following dates for our key activities.

  • 2013–2014 Undertaking of the EIA at the proposed development site
  • 2015–2016 Marine Licence/Planning Application submitted and determined
  • 2017 Phase one construction begins (30 MW)
  • 2020 Phase two completed (70 MW)

When will construction commence?

Tidal Ventures aims to begin construction in 2017 depending on the progress of the planning and electricity grid connection processes.

How many turbines will be deployed in this site?

The offshore tidal array will comprise of between 50 and 100 fully submerged tidal turbines with a maximum total installed capacity of 100MW. The total number of turbines installed will depend on the rating of the selected turbine.

2Project Location

Why was the Torr Head site selected?

Tidal Ventures studied all of the possible areas that were included in The Crown Estate’s leasing round and chose the area offshore of Torr Head as the optimum location for their proposed tidal energy array. The reasons are as follows:

  • There are very strong currents between the north Antrim coast and Scotland making this area very attractive for tidal arrays – it has stronger currents than anywhere else on the island of Ireland.
  • There is a suitable seabed and oceanographic conditions for tidal energy generation.
  • The area was included in the offshore leasing round announced by The Crown Estate in 2011.
Will the landscape or seascape change as a result of this project?

Tidal Ventures is very aware of the natural beauty of this coastline and of all the many fishing, wildlife and recreational activities that take place there. We also know that this is an important area to all those who live on the neighbouring Rathlin Island and in and around the Ballycastle area. All of our activity will be undertaken with this in mind and we will work to leave as little an impact as possible on the landscape and marine environment.

All permanent offshore components of the Project will be permanently submerged.

What are the benefits to local communities?

The local communities could potentially benefit from employment opportunities and an increase in trade from the project team’s presence throughout the project’s duration.

In the long-term, Tidal Ventures may wish to become involved in sponsorship with local events and could potentially undertake educational school visits to discuss tidal energy.

Environmentally, we have a unique opportunity to gain significant data about the local tides and the movement of the waters, as well as the habitats and activities of seabirds and mammals, which, where the findings are not commercially sensitive, may be of benefit and interest to other local organisations.

3Tender process

How did this project come about?

In 2011, The Crown Estate initiated a tender process for the award of the rights to investigate the development of a commercial scale 100MW tidal energy array off the north coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

The main criteria for selection outlined by The Crown Estate included:

  • Ability and resources to deliver the project
  • Demonstration of a strategy for successfully achieving planning approval
  • A robust Health & Safety record

Tidal Ventures was awarded an Agreement for Lease (AfL) for the project, which will potentially be the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, and is expected to be completed by the year 2020.

What size is the area awarded as part of the lease?

The AfL area of the sea is approximately 6.8km² in size. The AfL allows Tidal Ventures a period of five years to complete all of the necessary consenting activities required to submit an Application to construct the project. The AfL area offshore of Torr Head was granted in the autumn of 2012 by The Crown Estate. The depth of the sea within this area is approximately 30 to 80 metres.

Are there any other off-shore projects?

The companies which have been awarded rights to develop the offshore renewable energy opportunities in Northern Ireland are:

  • Tidal Ventures Limited for the 100 MW tidal energy array opportunity at Torr Head: a joint venture between OpenHydro, a DCNS company which designs and manufactures tidal turbines and Brookfield Renewable Energy Group, one of Ireland's leading energy providers.
  • DP Marine Energy Limited with DEME Blue Energy for their 100 MW tidal stream energy project close to Torr Head off Fair Head. This project is a consortium comprising Cork-based DP Marine Energy Limited and the Belgian marine engineering company DEME Blue Energy.
  • First Flight Wind Limited, off the Co Down coast, were awarded an Exclusivity Agreement for a 600 MW offshore wind project. It is currently understood that this project is no longer being taken forward for development.

4Tidal Energy

Why is Tidal Ventures focussing on tidal energy?

We believe that the ultimate renewable solution will depend on a blend of renewable technologies such as tidal, wind, wave and solar working together. Tidal will play a significant part in this mix given the predictable nature of the energy and the size of the resource.

Particular benefits of tidal include:

  • Energy is produced from a resource that is entirely predictable.
  • We propose using tidal turbines which are fully submerged beneath the ocean surface which cannot be seen or heard.
  • Water is 830 times denser than air meaning that, for a given electricity output, tidal turbines can be much smaller than equivalent wind turbines.
What will the project deliver?

Given our current understanding of the site, the project has the capacity to generate 100MW of energy – estimated to provide up to 6% of the installed capacity required to achieve the 40% renewable energy target for 2020 (the 40% target is estimated to be between 1500-1800MW depending on the mix of renewable energy generation contributing towards the target and related capacity factors of different technologies (DETI 2012).

5Other Questions

What stakeholder engagement is planned?

An on-going stakeholder engagement plan is underway and will continue throughout the duration of the project, up to 2020. Tidal Ventures will be communicating through various means with the following groups and bodies, where appropriate:

  • Government departments
  • Government agencies
  • Power organisations
  • Fishery, angling, diving and sailing organisations
  • Marinas and marine organisations
  • Harbour commissioners and coastguards
  • Conservation, countryside and heritage organisations
  • Environmental groups and organisations
  • Universities and scientific institutions
  • Local Councils
  • Elected representatives
  • Rathlin Island residents, groups and businesses
  • Local community groups, residents and businesses
  • General public
  • Media