Tidal project gets go-ahead

Tidal project gets go-ahead

The Scottish government has given its backing to a project that is set to lead to the construction of the biggest tidal power plant of its kind in Europe.

The Pentland Firth project seems certain to create lots of engineering jobs north of the border, while it will also change the energy landscape in the country.

Making the announcement, Fergus Ewing, Scotland's energy minister, noted that the plan would lead to the first commercial project off these shores.

It will also amount to the largest tidal turbine array in Europe.

"This is a major step forward for Scotland's marine renewable energy industry. When fully operational, the 86 megawatt array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes - around 40 per cent of homes in the Highlands."

It has been revealed that once the project is completed, it is likely to deliver up to 398MW of power.

The initial £13 million fund to build the first array is being delivered through the Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund, which is an ongoing government scheme.

Mr Ewing observed that the project forms an important part of efforts to tackle climate change.

"We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through better and more efficient uses of energy. Marine energy - a home-grown technology with huge potential - is part of the solution," he said.

The move has already been welcomed by Lang Banks, director of environmental group World Wildlife Fund Scotland.

He did, however, suggest that further investment is needed in order to realise the full potential of tidal energy.

Mr Banks also noted that there is little point in generating enviable amounts of marine renewable energy on Scotland's islands if it cannot reach the mainland.

To this end, he said that the UK and Scottish ministers must find a way of successfully harnessing the energy source.

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