Tidal Energy Exported: A World First

Tidal Energy Exported: A World First

A new renewable energy milestone was achieved in Scotland this week as for the first time tidal energy exported power to the National Grid. Nova Innovation installed the first turbine at Bluemill Sound in the Shetland Isles in March of this year with the second following in August. The instillation of the second turbine marks the first time that a tidal array has been connected to the grid globally. With tidal energy promising a long term source of predictable renewable energy the announcement has been greeted with delight within the Scottish renewables industry.

Lang Banks, WWF Scotland director said “News that power has been exported to grid for the first time by a pair of tidal devices marks yet another major milestone on Scotland’s journey to becoming a fully renewable nation.

“With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create green jobs right across the country.

“The Scottish Government’s forthcoming energy strategy provides the perfect opportunity to set out a bold vision for how we could become Europe’s fully renewable electricity nation by 2030, ensuring that we secure the maximum economic and social benefits that will arise from a shift toward a zero-carbon economy.”

Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland is already at the forefront of capturing power from the tides and waves, and Nova’s latest news demonstrates that lead is well-deserved.

“The country is already home to some of the most advanced marine energy technologies anywhere, as well as the European Marine Energy Centre: arguably the most advanced marine energy proving site in the world.

“With companies like Nova and others all working on developing this cutting-edge technology, the sector holds huge promise for the future.”

A little further south in Orkney Scotrenewables Tidal Power is this week testing its SR2000, said to be the world’s most powerful tidal turbine. The array is being connected to its mooring system at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) test site and is capable of generating 2MW of power – enough for about 1,000 homes over a year.

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse visited the site earlier this week and said “Scotland’s capacity to generate tidal power is considerable and this device has the potential to be a real game changer for the industry, not only here in Scotland, but across the world.

“Floating technology like this is likely to be easy and cheap to install, maintain and decommission. This will increase the commercial viability of tidal energy, which is crucial as we continue to transition towards a low carbon economy.”

Speaking of the turbine test Lang Banks said: “News that the world’s most powerful tidal turbine is to begin trials in Orkney underlines the important role Scotland currently plays in the development of marine renewables globally.

“We hope the sea trials are successful and the findings are helpful to the wider industry as it seeks to find cost-effective ways to harness the pollution-free power of our seas.”

Andrew Scott, Scotrenewables chief executive said “It’s obviously a critical phase in the project but we’re looking forward to the test programme and providing clear evidence of the significant advantages our technology can bring to the sector whilst offering a step reduction in costs.”

Last month we spoke of Scotland’s record breaking day when wind turbines produced more than 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand. As great as these days are they are rare and with the subsidy reductions leading to massive downturn in new turbine installations these record breaking days are unlikely to be achieved more often.

Therefore alternative sources are required and although it is unlikely that tidal energy will ever be able to supply the grid with its full base load the predictable nature of tides offers a solution that other forms of renewable energy have not been able to do.

Also Scotland has some of the strongest tides in Europe and it this resource which can be used to make tidal energy a key factor in our clean energy mix. However as the technology is very new progress will be slow and it won’t revolutionise the Scottish energy industry just yet. However as Scotland pursues the fully renewable nation ideology it is important that it is at the forefront of new and significant technological advancements within the industry and the tidal projects in Shetland and Orkney are certainly significant.


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