A&P Falmouth is part of a new project to design and develop a vessel to make the installation of tidal energy devices easier and more cost effective.
The renewable energy project has been awarded a grant of £1.5 million by the Technology Strategy Board to design, develop and commission a barge equipped with a sophisticated Dynamic Positioning (DP) system and with the capacity to install devices in the most challenging, high energy tidal sites.
A&P will provide a dry dock for the barge in Falmouth and contribute its shipbuilding expertise and knowledge of quayside operations and vessel conversion to the production management and development process.
The computer controlled system known as 'dynamic positioning' enables a vessel to automatically alter its position and heading by using its own thrusters. Adding the system to a versatile flat top barge will offer high positional accuracy during deployments, whilst making it suitable for a wide variety of tidal turbines, said the company.
Renewables developers currently have to source such vessels from the oil and gas sector for the installation of offshore energy devices, but the systems are not designed for operation in the high energy commercial sites where tidal units will be deployed.
The vessels also typically have day rates in excess of £100,000, significantly increasing the financial price-tag of a tidal energy installation.
By developing the DP barge, which will have significant deck space and heavy lift capacity, the consortium said it will be able to offer a "cost effective solution".
Paul Weston, renewable energy technical manager at A&P, said: "Installing tidal energy devices in locations with the best natural resources poses significant challenges to the renewables sector. The DP Barge will address these challenges to provide a lower cost, optimised installation vessel.
"The project consortium partners bring together an abundance of marine energy and maritime operations expertise. It's an exciting and important project and we're very pleased to be a part of it."
A&P is match funding half of its own costs and management time for the project during the development phase.
The project consortium is made up of four companies all committed to innovating technical solutions for the tidal energy sector. They are IT Power (project lead), A&P Falmouth (shipbuilders), Keynvor MorLift Ltd (marine contractor and ship owner) and Reygar Ltd (DP controller developer).