THE Princess Royal was in West Fife last week to launch a University of Edinburgh project aimed at maximising tidal energy generation.

The FastBlade rapid testing facility for tidal turbine blades is based at Rosyth and is a partnership between the university and Babcock.

The €10 million project – funded by the European Union and UK Research and Innovation – aims to deliver a range of innovations to improve the performance of tidal turbines and reduce costs.

It will investigate the full lifecycle of tidal turbine blades, from materials, manufacture and operation, to decommissioning and recyclability.

The project’s long-term aim is to ensure the European composite sector becomes the international leader in tidal blade manufacture.

It will involve a two-year design and development phase, followed by an 18-month build, during which blades will undergo advanced structural testing at FastBlade.

During her visit, the Princess Royal, who is also Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, met colleagues from the testing facility and partners of the new MAXBlade project.

MAXBlade is being led by TechnipFMC and includes Orbital Marine Power, Marasoft, TECNALIA, University of Edinburgh, EMEC, Laborelec and European Composites Industry Association. It is supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service.

Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, head of school and chair of materials engineering at Edinburgh University, said: “The University of Edinburgh is delighted to be a partner in the MAXBlade project, where we will demonstrate the unique rapid testing capability of the FastBlade facility.

"This will help the tidal energy industry to de-risk their ongoing turbine developments and provide low-cost, reliable renewable energy to the grid.

"We will also lead the development of thermoplastic resins in MAXBlade and the circular economy roadmap needed for future tidal blade manufacturing and recycling.”

Andrew Scott, chief executive officer at Orbital Marine Power, said they were pleased to be involved in the cutting-edge project. He added: "MAXBlade will help deliver tidal energy into a future, low-carbon energy mix at lower costs while, at the same time, position UK and European businesses to benefit from long-term industrial opportunities that will come from this new, sustainable industry.”