Australian-founded tidal energy technology developer will begin work soon on a 9MW demonstration project in Pentland Firth after the Scottish government gave approval this week.
Atlantis said the Meygen joint venture with Morgan Stanley and International Power, now owned by French energy giant GDF, will build six tidal turbines at the site, which is located between Orkney and the Scottish mainland, up until 2020.
The array – the first commercial deployment of tidal turbines in Scottish waters – will eventually have a capacity of 86MW, enough to generate electricity for 42,000 homes. Another 400 turbines could be installed over time.
The AR1000 turbine developed by Atlantis, which was founded in Australia but moved to Singapore to pursue international developments in the absence of interest in its hoe country – is claimed to be the world’s most powerful single-rotor tidal device.
Each of the 1MW devices stand 22.5m tall, weigh 1,500 tonnes and have a rotor diameter of 18m. The rotors are smaller than those of wind turbines because water is much denser than air. Atlantis says tidal energy is highly predictable and its turbines are fully submerged, so visual impact is minimal.
“Seven years ago, we envisaged a world-leading tidal energy project in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth,” Atlantis CEO Tim Cornelius said in a statement.
“Today, thanks to the foresight of the Scottish Government, the endeavour of the MeyGen team and the support of our project partners Morgan Stanley and GDF Suez, that dream becomes reality.”
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement the permit to MeyGen was a major step forward for Scotland’s marine renewable energy industry.
“This exciting development in the waters around Orkney is just the first phase for a site that could eventually yield up to 398MW,” he said. “We must tackle climate change. We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through better and more efficient uses of energy.”
Scotland, which aims for all of its electricity to come from clean sources by 2020, may have as much as a quarter of Europe’s tidal resources, according to government estimates.
Grants were also awarded to Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave Power for the development of wave energy turbines. Bloomberg also reports that ScottishPower Renewables, a unit of Spain’s largest utility Iberdrola, plans to use four tidal energy turbines supplied by Alstom at a site between the islands of Islay and Jura. The machines will be set up alongside four turbines developed by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, the company said, with the site reaching a capacity of about 10 megawatts.