A Green Revolution for Marine Energy Deployment

Tidal energy pioneer Sustainable Marine, located in the ‘Everest’ of the tidal energy world in the Bay of Fundy, Canada has developed a range of products in a bid to deliver the world’s ‘greenest’ anchoring solutions for marine energy devices.

Delivered under the ‘Swift Anchors’ brand, the technology—which has been under development for a decade—has potential to revolutionize traditional anchoring systems including clump weighs and gravity anchors, with a more streamlined and environmentally friendly solution.

Key to Swift Anchors’ approach is the use of low-cost, long-life, high-strength technology. This dramatically reduces seabed impact and speeds up installations using smaller vessels, leading to massive carbon savings. The portfolio, which has been developed carefully over many years, now includes Groutless Rock Anchors, Screw Anchor Piles, Drag Embedment Anchors and Grouted Self-Drilling Piles.

Early adoption dates back as far as 2013, when Sustainable Marine successfully developed and installed high-load helical screw piles to test a prototype tidal energy platform in the Solent. This was followed by several high-profile installations including 25 screw anchors for Cromarty Mussels in 2017, and rock anchor installations to support the testing of Sustainable Marine’s tidal energy systems in Scotland at EMEC’s (European Marine Energy Centre) Falls of Warness site, and below the Falls of Lora, in Connel Sound, near Oban.


More recently, Swift Anchors secured a deal to supply a rock anchoring system for US tidal energy developer ORPC, to support the deployment of the next generation TidGen system, in Cobscook, Eastport Maine, US. This will deliver many environmental benefits, including a significant carbon footprint reduction—equivalent to 50 tonnes of CO2, or the emissions of a Boeing 737-400 flying 10 times around the equator.

Due to the scale of the infrastructure, the rock anchor only requires light-touch logistics, meaning it can be easily installed from a Multi cat style vessel, further reducing cost and carbon emissions. Furthermore, the initial commercial offering includes a high strength ‘rock bolt’ with a holding capacity equivalent to 750 tonnes of concrete, opening up rocky areas where traditional anchors are not commercially or technically feasible. The scalable technology ultimately creates greater opportunities in higher-energy and more geotechnically challenging sites for marine renewables including floating offshore wind.

Accurate positioning on the seabed also reduces the cost of moorings and extends their life as well as reducing the environmental impact on the seabed.


Moreover, Swift Anchors’ technology continues to play an integral role in supporting Sustainable Marine’s own tidal energy developments. Earlier in 2021, the firm successfully deployed its next-generation PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada. This is set to form part of the world’s first floating tidal energy array, in the pioneering Pempa’q Project, delivering up to 9 MW of electricity.

The legendary Bay of Fundy is home to one of the world’s greatest and most dramatic tidal ranges, officially listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Here the mighty tides move at walking pace. A seismic aquatic shift sees more than 100 billion tons of water filling and emptying the Bay of Fundy twice daily. It’s a mind-boggling volume equating to more than forty million Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The subsequent water force generated at the Minas Passage is equal to 8,000 locomotives or 25 million horses. So extreme is this natural phenomenon, that the surrounding land is known to dip under the load.

In order to provide a suitable anchoring and mooring system, Swift Anchors has teamed up with Norwegian specialist Seasystems, part of Scana ASA, to design a unique hybrid mooring connector and anchor solution. This involves the integration of Seasystems’ adjustable mooring tensioners with Swift Anchors’ anchor technology, significantly easing the installation process and increasing flexibility in the mooring system design.

The Pempa’q Project is receiving support from the Canadian Government with a $28.5 million investment—one of the nation’s largest-ever investment in tidal energy. It will deliver up to 9 MW of electricity to the Nova Scotia grid, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and power approximately 3,000 homes. In addition to driving greater energy independence with a greener more sustainable economy, it will also boost creation across the region.


The Pempa’q Project is the result a gradual and carefully orchestrated ‘step-by-step’ process, with prototypes being tested in increasingly challenging environments over many years. This has maximized learning opportunities, and provided necessary time to finetune technology, not only to withstand greater natural forces but also ensure proven power output.

Early-stage testing saw deployments across various other sites in the UK, Indonesia, and Singapore, before more intensive programs to advance the PLAT-I concept in Connel, Scotland and in Nova Scotia, Canada in recent years. This sustained effort led to the creation of the PLAT-I 6.40 model which produces 50 percent more power than its predecessor.

Vital information has been gleaned at each small stage of the decade-long journey, translating to constant modifications and improvements, driving greater efficiency, reliability, and power generation. Sustainable Marine’s model of steady, incremental growth combined with large volumes of time spent on the platform has helped shape the firm it is today and will further influence the future architecture of the company’s third platform, currently on the drawing board.


The broader Swift Anchors division is positioning itself as a ‘one-stop-anchor-shop’ for all marine applications. Its wide range of solutions have been carefully refined over many years to adapt to all forms of seabed conditions, including overburden, and soft sediments. The technology is highly versatile for use across multiple marine sectors, including offshore wind, wave, tidal and solar power, as well as aquaculture, ocean flow, marine civil engineering, ocean thermal energy conversion and all other high load mooring applications.

And the timing couldn’t be more relevant, with the World Bank recently indicating up to 2,000 GW of offshore wind will be required by 2050. A substantial portion of this will be in floating offshore wind segment, where Swift Anchors’ technology can offer a viable low cost, low emission solution. This is particularly pertinent for emerging markets where new offshore wind entrants may even leapfrog fixed wind systems in favor of floating solutions. Swift Anchors is firmly positioned to support the development of these opportunities, especially closer to home floating wind projects in Europe and North America.

This story was originally featured in ON&T Magazine’s November/December 2021 issue. Click here to read more.

Latest Issue:

Welcome to ON&T’s new-look 2024 – 2025 Uncrewed Vehicles Buyers’ Guide (UVBG). Now in its tenth year, the UVBG has…

Your cON&Tent matters. Make it count.

Send us your latest corporate news, blogs or press releases.