The world's largest tidal stream energy array will be built in the Sound of Islay on Scotland's west coast.
On 17th March 2011, the Scottish Government approved plans to develop a 10MW tidal power array in the Sound of Islay, the channel of water that separates the islands of Jura and Islay.
The £40 million tidal array development, the first of its kind in the world, will generate enough electricity for over 5,000 homes - more than double the number of homes on Islay.
Utilities company ScottishPower Renewables plans to install ten tidal turbines, each capable of producing 1MW of electricity. The project will use HS1000 tidal turbines developed by Norwegian company Hammerfest Strøm AS. Seen as one of the world’s most advanced tidal turbine designs, the device was the first turbine in the world to convert kinetic energy in tidal waters to electricity.
The location in the Sound of Islay was chosen following a search to find the best site for a demonstration project. The Sound of Islay benefits from strong tidal flows, shelter from storms and waves and has available grid capacity.
The 10 Megawatt facility will further develop emerging tidal energy technology, provide economic and community benefits to Islay and Jura and cement Scotland's position as a global leader in marine energy.
ScottishPower Renewables has been working closely with Islay Energy Trust for the last 2 years and have funded a full time development officer on the island to help with the project and to encourage maximum local involvement. This has resulted in a number of residents getting involved with the project and it is anticipated that more than £500,000 will be spent locally during the project development phase.
A commercial agreement has also been signed with the whisky distillers on Islay to provide electricity from the project to eight distilleries.
"Scotland's seas have unrivalled potential to generate green energy"
Scotland is widely regarded as having the best tidal power resources anywhere in the world and the progression to demonstration projects is seen as a vital step towards fully realising this potential.
The Islay project will play a key role in proving a range of factors necessary for the large scale deployment of the technology. This will include developing a better understanding of the technical aspects involved in deploying and maintaining machines and bringing forward systems to monitor and analyse their performance.
The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, said: "With around a quarter of Europe's potential tidal energy resource and a tenth of the wave capacity, Scotland's seas have unrivalled potential to generate green energy, create new, low carbon jobs, and bring billions of pounds of investment to Scotland. This development - the largest tidal array in the world - does just that and will be a milestone in the global development of tidal energy."
"ScottishPower Renewables array will work in harmony with the environment and use the power of the tides in the Sound of Islay to generate enough green energy to power double the number of homes on Islay. There is simply nothing like it consented anywhere else in the world."
"The Scottish Government has the right incentives for commercial marine energy generation. With the highest support levels in the UK for wave and tidal energy, our £10 million Saltire Prize - Scotland's energy challenge to the world to inspire innovation in marine energy - and our low carbon investment project, Scotland is one of the most attractive markets in the world for investment in marine renewables. We will continue to work with our enterprise agencies and with other partners to develop to our full potential and cement Scotland's position as a global leader in marine energy."
Wave and tidal energy are emerging industries, with many technologies at an early development stage.
Scotland has an estimated 10% of Europe's wave power and 25% of tidal power, putting it in an ideal position at the forefront of this emerging sector.
The Scottish Government's target is to meet 80% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020. In 2009, 27% of electricity demand came from renewables. There is around 7 Gigawatts (GW) of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented around Scotland, which will take Scotland beyond the interim target of 31 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewables by 2011.
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