10MW tidal farm to be built in Scotland
The Scottish Government approved ScottishPower Renewables’ plans to develop a 10MW tidal power array in The Sound of Islay on Scotland’s west coast. The project will be capable to generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of the whole island. It is also the first tidal array project to be approved by Marine Scotland, the directorate of Scottish Government responsible for the management of Scotland’s seas.
ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) plans to install ten tidal turbines, each capable of producing 1MW of electricity. The project will use HS1000 tidal turbines developed by Hammerfest Strøm AS, a company partly-owned owned by Iberdrola (SPR’s parent company). A prototype device of that kind has been generating electricity in Norway for over 6 years. The company is currently constructing the first HS1000 device that will go into waters off Orkney later this year.
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 analyze their performance.
The location in The Sound of Islay, the channel of water that separates the islands of Jura and Islay on Scotland’s west coast, was chosen by SPR after a search for the best site where the project would be demonstrated. The Sound of Islay benefits from strong tidal flows pf continuous 11 kilometers per hour speed of the current (6.7 mph) between the islands, shelter from storms and waves and has available grid capacity. The planning application was also supported by a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment.
“The testing of the HS1000 machine in Orkney this year will help us to finalise our timetable for the demonstration project in Islay, but we will begin work on the project in 2012 and plan to have machines installed as early as feasible during the period 2013 to 2015”, said Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Renewables.
A commercial agreement has been signed with Diageo, one of the largest distillers on Islay, to provide electricity from the project to eight distilleries and maltings. The company is also developing a 95 turbine tidal project at Ness of Duncansbay in the Pentland Firth as part of The Crown Estate’s first marine energy leasing round.
Although this kind of technology represents a greener way of energy production, since the turbines are out of sight and don’t produce any pollution, it does raise concern about marine animal safety as well as the potential effects of noise which disrupts the communication of dolphins and whales on long distances.