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Plans Unveiled for Off-Grid Tidal-Powered Data Center in UK

A major tidal power developer has confirmed it is in the early planning stages of developing an off-grid data center in Northern Scotland to be powered exclusively by tidal energy.

Atlantis Resources Corporation and Morgan Stanley said they are in the early stages of planning a tidal power project located in Scotland’s Pentland Firth, reports BBC Scotland. Pentland Firth separates the Orkney Islands from the Scottish mainland, and has huge potential tidal energy resources.

>>More on tidal power at CleanTechnica

“Given that data centres need to be built somewhere, it makes sense to place them as close as possible to renewable energy sources that are currently grid-constrained,” said John Woodley of Morgan Stanley’s European and Asian power, gas and related businesses. Morgan Stanley is aiming to attract customers such as Google, who have fast growing computing capacity needs.

Several companies interested in tidal energy at Pentland Firth

The straights in the Pentland Firth have tidal flows that reach speeds of up to 16 knots every day of the year—leading some to call it the Saudi Arabia of marine power. The data center itself would require about 150 megawatts of power. Officials have also said they’d like to use the excess heat from the data center to warm greenhouses.

In August, the Crown Estate made the Pentland Firth the first UK marine site to be opened up for commercial pentland firthscale development. And as we previously reported at CleanTechnica, ScottishPower Renewables has designs on developing tidal energy at the Pentland Firth site. But Atlantis’ plan may give them a step-up on their competitors at ScottishPower by side-stepping one of the most substantial hurdles to installing any large-scale renewable energy project, and that is connecting to the national grid.

Atlantis says the first series of turbines would be operational in 2011, at a projected cost between £250m-£300m (US$400-600 million). But the developers must still secure planning permission, another hurdle for renewable energy projects. Projects a fraction the size of the Pentland Firth proposal, such as the Marine Current Turbine’s SeaGen project took 13 years to gain regulatory approval.

Atlantis and other potential developers can apply for seabed leases beginning in January 2009. Leases will be awarded next summer.

Images: 1. © Eimantas Buzas |; 2. Wikipedia


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is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.


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