The innovation process follows a methodical, systematic and structured approach, leading to groundbreaking innovations and developments.
On 14 January 2013, the International Seabed Authority and GSR signed a 15-year contract for the prospecting and exploration of polymetallic nodules. Under the contract, GSR has exclusive rights for the exploration of 76,728 km2 of seabed in the eastern part of the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Central Pacific Ocean.
Following the award, GSR has successfully completed the first phases of this truly groundbreaking project. Two surveying expeditions have taken place. In the second expedition a high-resolution geophysical survey of the seabed was executed and samples were collected to study the biological and geological conditions of the deep sea environment.
The main aim of this second expedition was to retrieve soil parameters for the design of a collector vehicle, to locate and quantify nodules in three areas, and to develop an environmental baseline study. The project team expects that around 3 million tonnes of polymetallic nodules could be harvested annually.
INTRODUCING THE ‘PROCAT’ PROJECT – DEVELOPMENT OF THE WORLD’S FIRST TRACKED NODULE COLLECTOR
In 2016, work began on the next exciting stage of this pioneering, deep sea harvesting project. During the year the project team has successfully developed the tracked soil testing device (TSTD) ‘Patania’ along with several Flemish specialist companies. The TSTD ‘Patania’ will be tested on the Pacific’s seabed in May 2017, when the GSR team will be accompanied by geologists, scientists and geotechnical engineers. When successful, a pre-prototype will be tested during the fourth expedition, which will then take place in early 2019 to thoroughly test the technology.GSR intends to develop the world’s first tracked nodule collector eventually in 2019, which is based on 100% DEME technology. This unique collector vehicle will be capable of harvesting nodules at staggering depths of 4,500 m right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 1,300 km from land.
Crucially, the expeditions will also be taking baseline measurements of the deep sea environment so GSR can measure the impact of the harvesting vehicle. Three large mooring buoys will be placed on the seabed to monitor changes in turbidity for at least a year. DEME is highly aware that any activity has to be both commercially viable and sustainable. In addition to improving deep sea harvesting expertise, the company strongly believes that this project and its expeditions will be an important addition to the world’s scientific knowledge.
DEME is keen to be a pioneer in this sustainable technology and in April 2016, DEME Concessions acquired an interest in Tidal Power Scotland Limited (TPSL), which controls the MeyGen project. Furthermore, DEME’s subsidiary GeoSea was awarded the installation contract for Phase 1A of MeyGen and deployed the jack-up vessel ‘Neptune’ for this challenging project.
The first phase consisted of the successful installation of four gravity-based foundations and it got underway in September 2016, with the foundations and ballast blocks loaded at the ports of Nigg and Scrabster, Scotland. The first turbine was energised and started producing power in November 2016.
During December, two further turbines were installed and the remaining turbine was installed in February 2017. MeyGen 1A represents a capacity of 6MW, encompassing one 1.5MW Atlantis turbine and three 1.5MW Andritz Hammerfest turbines.
GeoSea is now preparing the second 6MW phase of the MeyGen project, which will be executed in 2018.
Besides the participation in TPSL, DEME is involved in two other tidal energy developments – the West Islay Tidal Energy Park in Scotland (30MW) and Fair Head in Northern Ireland (100MW). These projects are currently being developed in cooperation with local partners.