Tidal stream prototype generates record levels of electricity off the Orkney coast

Image credit: Scotrenewables

A tidal stream prototype off the Orkney coast has produced 3GWh of “predictable” electricity in the last 12 months - more energy than Scotland’s entire wave and tidal energy sector produced in the 12 years up to its installation.

The SR2000 turbine clocked up over 3GWh of renewable electricity in its first year of testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland, at times supplying over 25 per cent of the electricity demand of the Orkney Islands.

Scotrenewables, the company behind the turbine, said that its performance over the last year demonstrated the “maturity” of the technology and called for a wider rollout across Scotland. It said the turbine was generating at its peak capacity within three weeks of commissioning.

The 2MW SR2000 was first launched in 2016 and is the world’s largest tidal energy converter.

Scotrenewables has also been developing a production model that will implement a number of “cost reduction innovations” that it hopes will allow for wider adoption of the technology.

Over the 12 years before its launch in 2016, wave and tidal energies across Scotland had collectively produced 2.983 GWh, according to Ofgem.

Andrew Scott, chief executive officer of developers Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said: “The SR2000’s phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry.

“Its first year of testing has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewable technologies.”

“The ability to easily access the SR2000 for routine maintenance has been a significant factor in our ability to generate electricity at such levels over the past 12 months, including over winter.”

Hannah Smith, senior policy manager at trade body Scottish Renewables, said: “This milestone for the tidal energy industry truly demonstrates the untapped potential of this emerging sector.

“Scotland’s remarkable marine energy resource has placed us front and centre in developing this industry with global potential.

“To keep driving progress it’s critical that both Scottish and UK governments recognise the potential of these technologies and work with industry to fully commercialise these innovations.”

Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland, added: “As we transition to a wholly renewable electricity system, it’s really important that we have a diversity of renewable electricity sources.

“We’ve seen huge growth in onshore wind and offshore wind over recent years and it’s great to see new tidal technologies now hitting new milestones.”

In June, the UK government declined to back the Swansea Bay renewable energy tidal lagoon project over cost concerns. 

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