Edinburgh tidal energy firm expands world-first Shetland project

Tidal energy firm Nova Innovation has completed the first stage of a major investment to expand the capacity of its pioneering project in Shetland.

One of the new M100-D turbines which are being installed at Nova Innovations tidal array at Bluemull Sound, Shetland as part of an expansion move.

The Edinburgh-based company launched the world’s first grid-connected tidal array in Bluemull Sound in 2016 and has now installed the first of three new turbines which will double the size of the project.

The turbine - named Eunice – is the next generation of devices developed by Nova which it said slashes the cost of tidal energy by a third and makes it competitive with fossil fuels.

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The Shetland project is part of the pan-European Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal initiative, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The scheme aims to drive commercialisation of the tidal energy sector by improving reliability and reducing costs. Nova partnered with Belgian renewable energy developer ELSA to develop the Shetland Tidal Array.

Simon Forrest, who co-founded Nova in a shed a decade ago, said the company had “achieved what many thought impossible”.

“We are generating electricity from the immense power of our seas. Our proven technology is displacing fossil fuels and changing the way we power our lives.”

Forrest said he was “very excited” about the future potential of tidal energy. “The global potential for this untapped, abundant and valuable source of renewable energy is enormous. We are driving down costs and branching into new markets to make tidal energy mainstream. By 2030, tidal energy will be cheaper than nuclear power and fossil fuels, providing cleaner and sustainable energy for coastal communities around the world.”

Matthijs Soede of the European Commission said the Shetland project will “demonstrate a clear cost reduction pathway for tidal energy”.

“The project will deliver a bank of evidence for its environmental and socio-economic benefits. We should be able to apply these learnings and technologies to settings across the world – putting tidal power firmly at the forefront of our energy transition.”

Late last year Nova secured permission a permit to develop a 1.5MW tidal array in Nova Scotia, Canada. It plans to install 15 tidal stream turbines to generate enough power for 600 homes.

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