A 200-tonne turbine for the MeyGen tidal stream project, the world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm, has been unveiled in Scotland before its dispatch to the Pentland Firth.
The 15m tall and 16m in diameter 1.5 MW turbine is the first of the four originally proposed for the project developed by Edinburgh-based Atlantis Resources. The developer thinks up to 269 turbines could eventually be installed in the Pentland Firth between Caithness and Orkney, which would deliver 398 MW of power – enough to supply 175,000 homes with clean electricity.
"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," said Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, during the unveiling ceremony at the Nigg Energy Park outside Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.
"There is no doubt that the eyes of the world are on this project which is why the Scottish government's investment is so crucially important. Yet it is absolutely vital that the UK government honours its earlier commitment to provide a ring-fenced allocation for marine energy in its renewables support scheme."
Atlantis Resources has received £23m in Scottish government funding towards the project.
"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," said Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis Resources.
"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."
According to Renewable UK deputy chief executive Maf Smith, the fact that the turbine was assembled at a disused oil and gas fabrication yard illustrates the opportunities offered by renewables.
"The official launch of the largest tidal stream energy project in the world marks a significant moment in the commercial development of marine power," Smith said.
"It clearly demonstrates the economic opportunities being created in the UK, which other countries are eyeing enviously. Britain is driving innovation, attracting investment and creating jobs."
According to Jenny Hogan, policy director for Scottish Renewables, tidal power is a promising technology that could make a significant contribution to the UK’s future energy mix. However, whether it reaches its full potential depends largely on continuous support by the Scottish and British government.
This is the second tidal energy milestone in Scotland in a month. On 30 August, the second of two turbines of a Nova Innovation plant off the coast of the Shetland Isles started exporting electricity to the grid. The project has thus become the world’s first operational tidal array.