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Marine energy projects set for development

A tidal project to generate enough energy to power 400,000 homes is set to be developed off the Scottish coast, after the rights to the site in the Pentland Firth were awarded to a consortium of companies by the Crown Estate.

The scheme in a stretch of high flowing water in the Pentland Firth Inner Sound, at the northern tip of Scotland, will be one of the biggest in the world, with the potential to generate up to 400 megawatts of power.

A 25-year operational lease for the site has been awarded to MeyGen, a joint venture between power generator International Power, investment bank Morgan Stanley and tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources Corporation.

The award of the lease by the Crown Estate comes after two years of feasibility work in the waters of the Pentland Firth.

Subject to receiving planning consent, the consortium plans to install up to 400 turbines completely submerged in the Inner Sound area - which is known as the "crown jewel" of the Pentland Firth for tidal projects due to the quality of the tides and proximity to the mainland for grid connections.

The first step will be to deploy some turbines to assess their environmental impact and help plan for later phases, with construction occurring on a phased basis up to 2020.

The scheme is part of efforts to develop the Pentland Firth and waters surrounding the Orkney Islands in the largest planned wave and tidal generating programme in the world.

The area is the first to be made available for commercial scale development of wave and tidal energy in the UK and up to 1,600MW of power generating capacity could be installed.

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