Scotland’s natural resources must be nurtured

We need to invest in wave and tidal energy, says Ronnie Quinn

A £50m investment has recently been secured for tidal wave development in the Pentalnd Firth. Picture: Contributed
A £50m investment has recently been secured for tidal wave development in the Pentalnd Firth. Picture: Contributed

Such resources, if they can be harnessed, have a critical place in our future energy mix.

There are of course the unanswered questions – how much energy can be generated, when, and at what cost? Some may say we are ten years away from the answers and many have been saying that for the past 15 years.

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So last week’s news that MeyGen has reached agreements for approximately £50 million of investment, including nearly £10m from The Crown Estate, for its tidal development in the Pentland Firth is a welcome step forward in helping ensure Scotland and the UK continue to lead the world in tidal, current and wave technologies.

The MeyGen project is the latest UK tidal stream development to secure construction finance – and we hope this funding, which comes from various Scottish and UK organisations, will encourage investment in other projects.

The Crown Estate now manages more than 40 wave and tidal sites where projects of differing sizes and technologies compete for capital. This includes zones in Scottish waters which involve local organisations such as Western Isles Council and community trusts in managing developments.

RenewableUK considers the UK to be well-placed to capture a significant share of the global market which it forecasts will be worth £50 billion by 2050. According to Scottish Renewables, over 800 people already work in the Scottish wave and tidal sectors.

Visit Kirkwall and businesses report increased trade since the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters opened up for development in 2010, kick-starting investment by The Crown Estate and developers that will ensure Scotland reaps the rewards. With the £50m for Meygen announced, and expected to deliver power to the grid in 2016, the first tidal array project in UK waters is taking us a step towards fully realising the economic and environmental benefits our seas offer.

l Ronnie Quinn is the Crown Estate’s head of ocean energy