World's first tidal energy farm to be built off Islay
THE world's first tidal power project is to be built in the Sound of Islay, after approval was given by the Scottish Government.
The 40 million scheme will be able to generate electricity for more than 5,000 homes - double the number on Islay.
The ten-turbine, 10MW facility, being developed by ScottishPower Renewables, will further develop emerging tidal energy technology and is seen as a forerunner for much larger projects in the Pentland Firth.
Plans are under way to generate 1,600MW of marine energy in the firth, off Caithness, following the world's first commercial wave and tidal leasing round announced last year.
The approval of the Islay scheme was announced yesterday by finance secretary John Swinney, who determined the application as it is in energy minister Jim Mather's Argyll and Bute constituency.
Mr Swinney said it was the world's only project of its kind with consent.
He added: "With around a quarter of Europe's potential tidal energy resource and a tenth of the wave capacity, Scotland's seas have unrivalled potential to generate green energy, create new, low-carbon jobs, and bring billions of pounds of investment to Scotland."
Other Scottish firms in the supply chain are set to benefit from 4m worth of contracts in making the turbines to be used in the development, including manufacture of a prototype at BiFab in Arnish, near Stornoway.
The site in the Sound of Islay, between the island and Jura, was chosen for its strong and predictable tidal flow, while being naturally protected from storms.
It is anticipated that more than 500,000 will be spent locally during the development phase. A commercial agreement has also been signed with Diageo, one of the largest distillers on Islay, to use electricity from the project for eight distilleries and maltings.
The project is the first so called tidal array scheme to be approved by Marine Scotland, the directorate of Scottish Government responsible for the management of Scotland's seas.
It will use turbines developed by Hammerfest Strm, a company part-owned owned by Iberdrola, SPR's parent company.
A prototype device has been generating electricity in Norway for more than six years and the company is currently constructing the first device that will go into waters off Orkney for tests later this year.It is then hoped to begin work on the project in 2012, with plans to have machines installed between 2013-2015.
Scotland is widely regarded as having the best tidal power resources anywhere in the world and the progress to demonstration is seen as a vital step towards fully realising this potential.
SPR chief executive Keith Anderson said: "Tidal power has long been considered one of Scotland's most valuable renewable energy resources and we have discussed its potential for many years.
"This announcement moves the whole marine renewables industry forward in Scotland and the UK."
Johanna Yates, Scottish Renewables Offshore policy manager, said the announcement represented a major milestone for the marine energy sector in Scotland.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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