• Project expected to be installed off Goto Islands in 2018
  • OpenHydro will make turbine in France, ship it to Japan

Plans for Asia’s first commercial tidal stream turbine took a step forward Tuesday, after the Japanese government chose a group of companies to provide components for a project in the East China Sea.

OpenHydro Group Ltd., a unit of naval defense company DCNS SA, will supply a 2-megawatt turbine and Nippon Steel and Sumikin Engineering Co. will supply the subsea base for a project in the Goto Islands, Nagasaki prefecture, OpenHydro said Tuesday in a statement. Kyuden Mirai Energy Co. and NPO Nagasaki Marine Industry Cluster Promotion Association were also part of the winning group, according to the statement.

The project could mark the opening of the Asian market for the world’s fledgling tidal stream industry, which until now has been mainly focused in the U.K., France and Nova Scotia, Canada, according to Angus McCrone, chief editor of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“Countries such as China, Japan and South Korea are also starting to show serious interest,” he said. “They have sites with strong tidal currents, and they also have policies encouraging development of new clean-power technologies.”

Fledgling Industry

The world’s fledgling tidal stream industry, which uses devices to harness the power of ocean tides, may have 14 megawatts of installed capacity by the end of 2016, rising to 87 megawatts by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. While those volumes are dwarfed by more mature renewable-energy industries such as wind power, they represents a major advance from the 3 megawatts installed last year, the London-based researcher said.

Site surveys are to start in 2017, while the turbine will be manufactured in France and shipped to Japan, where it will be deployed in 2018, Dublin-based OpenHydro said.

“This 16-meter (52-foot) turbine will be the first commercial-scale tidal device to be deployed in Japanese waters,” OpenHydro Chief Executive Officer James Ives said in the statement. The rotor turbine will sit on the seabed and generate power as the tides rise and fall.

“In future, we will manufacture devices for commercial scale arrays in Japan, underlining again the potential of the industry to create jobs and economic benefit where significant tidal resource is available,” Ives said.

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