Renewable energy in the UK took major steps forward this week with the granting of permission for two key projects in Scotland.
Permission to build a tidal power station in the Pentland Firth that will be the biggest in Europe and the first deployment of tidal power in Scottish waters has been given by the Scottish Government.
The tidal energy scheme will start with installation of a 9MW demonstration project of up to six turbines, after which phased construction will see 86 turbines installed in the first phase, with as many as 400 installed after a second phase. When fully operational an 86MW array could power the equivalent of 42,000 homes, about 40% of homes in the Highlands, says the Scottish Government.
Each turbine stands 22.5m high and weighs 1,500 tonnes with a rotor diameter of 18m and can generate up to 1MWt of power. Planning consent has been granted to MeyGen, a joint venture between investment bank Morgan Stanley, power generation specialist International Power and tidal technology specialist Atlantis Resources Corporation, which says its turbine is the world’s most powerful single-rotor tidal device.
Scotland has been described as the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy potential but the harsh environment (such as the tidal whirlpool pictured) and weather around the coast mean that designing, building and installing the equipment present major engineering challenges.
* The Highland Council approved plans this week from ScottishPower Renewables for a 15 turbine windfarm at Halsary in Caithness that will have an installed capacity of up to 34.5MW from 15 turbines.