Climate Action

Scotland launches first large-scale tidal energy farm in the world

The first large scale tidal energy farm – the MeyGen tidal stream project – in the world has been launched in Scotland.

  • 15 September 2016
  • William Brittlebank

The first large scale tidal energy farm – the MeyGen tidal stream project – in the world has been launched in Scotland.

The project, developed by Edinburgh-based Atlantis Resources, is expected to reach 269 turbines and to be able to generate electricity for 175,000 homes with a capacity of 398MW.

The first turbine – measuring 15 metres tall (49 ft), with blades of 16 metres in diameter, and weighing 200 tonnes – was unveiled in the Pentland Firth, just oustside Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

It will be transported to the project’s site in the waters off the north coast of Scotland between Caithness and Orkney.

Three other turbines of a capacity of 1.5 MW will also be installed during the first step of the project, which has already received £23 million in funding from the Scottish government.

Maf Smith, the deputy chief executive of the lobby group RenewableUK, said: “New technology like this will be powering our nation for decades to come.”

Scottish Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “I am incredibly proud of Scotland’s role in leading the way in tackling climate change, and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this.”

She added: “ MeyGen is set to invigorate the marine renewables industry in Scotland and provide vital jobs for a skilled workforce, retaining valuable offshore expertise here in Scotland that would otherwise be lost overseas.”

Tim Cornelius, the chief executive of Atlantis Resources, said: “Today marks a historic milestone not just for Atlantis and our project partners, but for the entire global tidal power industry.”

He added: “It gives me enormous pride to have reached this juncture after 10 years of tireless work, preparation and planning by everyone associated with this project. This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the UK’s future energy mix. This is an industry that is creating jobs and Scotland is the undisputed world leader of this high growth sector.”

The Policy Director for the trade body Scottish Renewables, Jenny Hogan, emphasized the “potential of tidal generation to make a significant contribution to the UK’s growing need for clean electricity, and to deliver further investment and jobs to the UK”.

She added: “However, this is still an incredibly young technology, and future development is absolutely dependent on continued support from Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels, who have all played a vitally important part in the growth of the sector to date.”

Fabrice Leveque, the climate and energy policy officer at the environmental body WWF Scotland, said: “It’s great that Scotland is now home to the world’s first large-scale tidal stream farm. It comes hot on the heels of Shetland tidal devices exporting power to the National Grid for the first time and the testing of the world’s most powerful tidal turbine off Orkney... This underlines what we already know, that Scotland has 25% of the EU’s offshore wind and tidal power potential.”