Largest tidal energy farm could be in UK waters

The world's largest tidal-powered energy farm could be built in British waters.

The world's largest tidal-powered energy farm could be built in British waters. Three sites are under investigation – two off Scotland and one off the coast of Northern Ireland – for up to 60 underwater turbines, generating 60 mega-watts of power for 40,000 homes.

ScottishPower, the energy firm behind the plans, said the technology could make Scotland the global leader in the field. Director of the firm's renewable arm Keith Anderson said: "This is a historic day for the development of marine energy.

"The rapid technological advancement of tidal power has enabled us to progress plans for this substantial project which has the real potential to deliver significant environmental and economic benefits."

The announcement came as the Crown Office opened parts of the seabed for leasing to developers. The tide-turbines are expected to be weighed to the floor of the sea in the Pentland Firth between the Scottish mainland and Orkney, in the Sound of Islay and off the coast of Country Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The structures stand 30m tall on three legs and can work as deep as 100m below sea level with the ability to turn to harness tide movements. The 20m blades would turn at least 10m below the surface to avoid shipping, developers said. The zones would be banned to trawlers for safety reasons.

ScottishPower said tests in Norway proved the turbine blades moved slowly enough for marine life to avoid them. A prototype turbine, called Lanstrom, was inspected over four years at Hammerfest and would be replicated for the proposed development.

"Tidal power is completely renewable, being driven by the gravity of the Sun and Moon, with no carbon dioxide emissions, while being entirely predictable in nature,” Anderson said. "Scotland has the best resources in Europe with the Pentland Firth alone containing enough tidal energy to meet a third of Scotland's power requirements."

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