The first turbine for the MeyGen tidal stream project has been unveiled in the Scottish Highlands by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as the world’s largest tidal power generation project begins installation.
As reported by The Guardian, the project’s first turbine was displayed just outside Inverness in Scotland before being transported to its installation site off the northern coast of Scotland, between Caithness and Orkney. The 15 metre tall turbine is the first of four to be installed as part of phase one, with each turbine having a capacity to generate of 1.5 MW of power when fully functional. The project has been developed by Edinburgh-based Atlantis Resources and received £23m in funding from the Scottish Government.
“I am incredibly proud of Scotland’s role in leading the way in tackling climate change and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this”, said Sturgeon at the unveiling. “MeyGen is set to invigorate the marine renewables industry in Scotland and provide vital jobs for a skilled workforce, retaining valuable offshore expertise here in Scotland that would otherwise be lost overseas.”
The project has been developed by Edinburgh-based Atlantis Resources and received £23m in funding from the Scottish Government
These first four turbines are only the first step of MeyGen’s ambitious plan. Atlantis Resources hopes the site’s scale will eventually grow to 269 turbines operating at a total capacity of 398 MW, enough electricity to power 175,000 homes.
Tidal energy uses the force of tides to drive underwater turbines. They are less common than other renewables due to their comparatively high cost and scarcity of suitable locations for construction. They do offer other benefits; power generation is much more reliable than wind and solar with underwater turbines being less obvious eyesores.
It’s part of something of a tidal revolution in the UK, with a number of firms moving to take advantage of the region’s suitability for the systems. In April, Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre received approval to construct up to 60 turbine systems off the Isle of Wright. Nova Innovation switched on turbines in Shetland last month.
It’s in stark contrast to the level of enthusiasm for tidal power in the recent past. Scottish firm Pelamis collapsed into administration 2014 with Aquamarine following just a year later. Both cited lack of funding for their collapse.