After approving a wave energy project earlier this year, the Scottish government has given the go-ahead for Europe’s largest tidal energy project.
Construction of the 86 megawatt (MW) project begins early next year, starting with a 9 MW demonstration project – 6 turbines will start operating in 2015. The site, between Orkney Islands and mainland Scotland, could eventually grow to 398 MW.
The site, called the Pentland Firth, is considered one of the most promising locations for wave and tidal energy in Europe, dubbed the "Saudi Arabia of tidal power." Its generation potential is estimated to be between 1-1.9 gigawatts.
"Today we have granted consent to MeyGen Ltd. to develop the largest tidal turbine array in Europe and the first commercial project off these shores," says Scottish Energy Minister Fergus. "This is a major step forward for Scotland’s marine renewable energy industry. When fully operational, the 86 MW array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes – around 40% of homes in the Highlands. This exciting development in the waters around Orkney is just the first phase for a site that could eventually yield up to 398 MW."
The demo project will collect important environmental impact data.
"The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region is an internationally important area for wildlife, and we are committed to continuing research with interested parties to ensure that the exploitation of this clean, predictable and sustainable energy resource is done so in a manner that does not have a detrimental effect on the species and habitats in the area," says Ed Rollings, environments and consents manager for MeyGen.
Scotland’s waters have 10% of Europe’s wave power potential, and 25% of its offshore wind and tidal power potential.
Last year, the Scottish government created a £18 million Marine Renewable Commercialization Fund to help tap that potential. This week it announced the first funding award – Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave Power will share £13 million to advance development of their technologies.
Aquamarine’s subsidiary Lewis Wave Power is behind Europe’s largest proposed wave energy project, also off the coast of Scotland. The 40 MW installation, which will power 30,000 homes, was approved earlier this year.
Scotland’s goal is to generate all its electricity from
renewable energy by 2020.
Details on the MeyGen tidal energy project: