Leaders: Dream of self-sufficiency takes a step forward

There is a long way to go, but first delivery of tidal energy to the National Grid shows the industry's promising future

The potential of wind power to deliver much of Scotlands energy needs is already well known. Picture: John Devlin

It was former First Minister Alex Salmond who said that Scotland’s mix of wind and marine power could create a “Saudi Arabia of renewables” in the Pentland Firth.

While that was dismissed in some quarters as nothing more than a soundbite, it nevertheless showed a laudable ambition for what the sector could achieve.

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But with wind farms enjoying a considerable amount of focus – not to mention government subsidies – tidal energy has gone relatively unnoticed.

That could be about to change, however, with the news that a Scottish firm has become the first in the world to deliver electricity to the National Grid using a tidal turbine system.

Nova Innovation installed its first turbine at its Shetland Islands project in March, before installing its second earlier this month.

The firm said its project in the Bluemull Sound represented major progress in using tidal energy as a long-term source of predictable renewable power.

In a world where clean forms of energy are increasingly looking like the only solution to resolving long-term supply, the announcement could prove to be hugely significant.

The potential of wind power to deliver much of Scotland’s energy needs is already well known.

Even those ignorant of its impact cannot have failed to notice the march of giant wind turbines which either augment or spoil the landscape, depending on who you speak to.

Earlier this month, environmentalists claimed that high winds had powered the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity needs for the day.

WWF Scotland said analysis had shown turbines had provided 39,545 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to the national grid on Sunday 7 August – the equivalent of 106 per cent of the country’s power consumption for that day. But while the statistic is encouraging, it relates to a day where much of the country was battered with high winds. In benign conditions, wind power will not achieve the energy base load required to keep the lights on.

Tidal energy also has its limitations, with installation of underwater turbines a huge logistical challenge. But it offers a predictability of supply not provided by wind or wave power.

Industry body Scottish Renewables yesterday said tidal energy held “huge promise” for the future.

Scotland has some of the most powerful tides in Europe, which must now be exploited to become a key component of our energy mix. Progress is likely to be slow – the dream of Scotland becoming a fully renewable nation may yet be some way off - but it is important that Scotland stays at the forefront of what will be the next sigificant front in the development of renewable energy.

And it will also take major investment, which must be given incentives by the Scottish Government.

Once that is in place, there is no reason why Scotland cannot one day be to tidal energy what Saudia Arabia is to oil.

Utterly shameful wait for justice

Twenty years have now passed since Margaret McKeich’s teenage daughter was murdered, yet she continues to wait for justice.

Caroline Glachan was found dead on the banks of the River Leven in West Dunbartonshire on 25 August, 1996.

She had been heading to meet her boyfriend in Renton at 11:45pm, having spent the evening with friends.

Yesterday police launched a new appeal for information in the hope of finding Caroline’s killer and helping bring her mother’s anguish to an end.

Officers are carrying out fresh DNA tests on evidence gathered at the time of the murder, with forensic techniques said to be “on a

different planet” to where they were in the mid-1990s.

But despite technological advances, officers continue to battle against an altogether different problem.

Sadly police say they have come up against a “wall of silence” while investigating the murder.

That is a shameful state of affairs.

Those who have been protecting the cowardly killer of a 14-year-old girl for all these years must now search their consciences and come forward.

Police want to trace a man wearing a hooded top who was seen following Caroline on the day she died.

Detectives said he is probably the last person to have seen the teenager alive.

Mrs McKeich says she needs two questions answered – who and why – before she can find peace.

After two decades, it is the least she should expect.