According to CNBC, Japanese shipping giant Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) will participate in a tidal power project planned for Singapore as the emerging marine energy sector gains ground.
According to the article, The demonstration project, led by Singapore-owned Bluenergy Solutions, focuses on developing off-grid tidal power systems. The hope is that one day they can replace diesel generators.
The scheme will see three-bladed turbines, parts of which resemble those used in wind farms, deployed underwater.
NYK said it would work on three areas as part of the off-grid project: energy storage, the cost of power generation, and the efficiency of power generation.
Established in 1885, Tokyo-listed NYK is involved in bulk shipping, air cargo transportation, and logistics, among other things.
Last week’s announcement represents its latest foray into tidal power. He was previously involved in a project that installed turbines under the Sentosa waterfront, which links the mainland of Singapore with Sentosa Island.
Projects like the ones being planned for Singapore are in their early stages, but Asia is already home to South Korea’s Lake Sihwa tidal power plant. A tidal dam power plant, it began operations in 2011 and is said to be the largest tidal power plant in the world.
According to the US Tethys database, tidal dams “are typically built at the entrance to a bay or estuary” and produce electricity by taking advantage of “the difference in height of the water inside and outside the structure.”
While tidal dam developments were the initial focus of those operating in the marine energy industry (EDF’s La Rance tidal dam dates back to the 1960s, for example), in recent years companies have focused its attention on different systems.
These include tidal current devices which, according to the European Center for Marine Energy, “are very similar to submerged wind turbines.”
Lots of potential, work to do
The International Energy Agency has said that “marine technologies have great potential”, but adds that additional political support for research, development and demonstration is required to reduce costs.
Outside of Asia, European installations of tidal and wave power capacity increased in 2021 as deployments returned to pre-pandemic levels amid a substantial increase in investment.
In March, Ocean Energy Europe said that 2.2 megawatts of tidal current capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020. For wave power, 681 kilowatts were installed in Europe in 2021. , which according to the OEE was a threefold increase from 2020. .
Globally, 1.38 MW of wave power came online in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal current capacity was installed.
While there is excitement about the potential of marine energy, the overall size of wave and tidal current projects remains very small compared to other renewables.
In 2021 alone, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity, according to figures from industry body WindEurope.
- NYK says its involvement in the project will see it look at areas including storage and the cost of power generation.
- The demonstration is being carried out by the Singapore-owned company Bluenergy Solutions.
- Asia is already home to major facilities such as South Korea’s Lake Sihwa tidal power plant, which began operations in 2011 and has a capacity of 254 megawatts.