Scotland’s sparsely populated Orkney Islands in the North Sea are home to some of the world’s most powerful winds and waves. Not surprisingly, it is a hotbed of alternative clean energy research – 100% of the region’s electricity is generated without fossil fuels.

People visit Orkney to experience nature’s beauty, prehistoric archeological sites, and scuba dive World War II shipwrecks, but don’t expect an awesome broadband connection there.

“We are limited at the moment in terms of our Internet connection speeds,” says Jonathan Meason, CTO of Scotrenewables Tidal Power. “But Onshape still works smoothly. I haven’t had anyone on the team tell me so far that they can’t use Onshape because the Internet is too slow today.”

Scotrenewables, which recently launched the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, has an agile design team split between Orkney and Edinburgh, Scotland – as well as partners in Germany and Switzerland. Onshape allows the team to instantly collaborate with each other on the same CAD data, significantly speeding up the design process.

Orkney’s lack of high-speed Internet isn’t a roadblock because the “heavy lifting” of CAD – the intense computations required for graphics and complex geometry – happens on Onshape’s remote servers instead of local machines. With this much lighter footprint, CAD data can be quickly shared between team members even when there is a spotty Internet connection.

World’s Largest Floating Turbine – Scotrenewables turbines are designed to significantly reduce maintenance costs since they can be towed to harbor and be repaired in a more tranquil and controllable environment.

To design its new floating tidal turbine prototype, Scotrenewables recently switched from a traditional desktop-installed CAD system to browser-based Onshape. The design team no longer needs to sync their CAD data from remote laptops with their master CAD data on the office server. With Onshape’s built-in version control, there is no confusion over which design is the latest, most up-to-date version.

“With traditional CAD, the data management can get quite intensive,” Meason says. “With Onshape, you avoid these issues. You get a highlight when someone is working on the same Document or the same Tab, and you can even modify the same part at the same time. It’s taken the worry out of our design. We don’t have to worry so much about the possibility of losing work.”

Rethinking Tidal Energy – Scotrenewables is using Onshape to redesign this early prototype of a floating tidal turbine. The company’s approach is a significant departure from industry efforts to mount turbines to the ocean floor.

And using CAD in a browser keeps paying dividends.

“A big advantage for us is that you don’t need a high-end workstation to make good use of Onshape,” Meason notes. “We haven’t had to upgrade any hardware to use Onshape and it means when we look to update hardware, we can ease back on the requirements for our workstations.”

“In terms of file management, computing power, the ability to share information and collaborative work, Onshape is proving to be extremely powerful for us,” he adds.


To read more about how Scotrenewables is using full-cloud CAD to speed up its design cycle, visit Onshape’s Customer Stories page.