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86 MW Scottish Tidal Energy Project Gets Green Light

The Pentland Firth is the body of water separating the north Scottish mainland from Stroma Island, and will now be home to Europe’s largest tidal array. MeyGen has been awarded consent by the Scottish Government to build the 86 MW tidal energy project after they completed the statutory approval process with Marine Scotland.

“The award of this consent is the culmination of over 4 years of environmental work and extensive consultation with stakeholders and the local community in Caithness,” said Ed Rollings, Environment & Consents Manager of MeyGen, a joint venture between investment bank Morgan Stanley, GDF SUEZ, and tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources Corporation, who joined together to develop the Inner Sound tidal site of Pentland Firth.

According to MeyGen, “[a]pproximately five years ago, an initial site selection process was conducted on the whole of the Pentland Firth using a tidal flow model which was created in order to highlight areas of suitable resource for tidal stream energy projects.” It was in light of this model, and “further site evaluation” that the Inner Sound “was assessed as the best site for initial commercial development.”

Image Credit: MeyGen

Image Credit: MeyGen

Located off the north coast of Caithness, the Inner Sound is now home to the largest tidal stream energy project to be awarded consent in Europe, and represents the first phase of a project which will ultimately yield up to 398 MW.

This first stage will consist of an initial demonstration array of up to 6 tidal turbines, amounting to 9 MW. While completion of this first demonstration phase will hopefully commence in 2014 and be completed in 2015, the full 86 MW is expected to be completed sometime near 2020.

Dan Pearson, CEO of MeyGen noted that “the MeyGen team and its shareholders are thrilled to have reached this defining milestone. While there is still much work to be done, the prospects for delivering the first tidal energy array in the Pentland Firth, thereby establishing a stepping stone to commercialising tidal energy, are promising”.

Unsurprisingly, all parties concerned are holding the local ecosystem in high concern. Ed Rollings noted that “[t]he Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region is an internationally important area for wildlife and we are committed to continuing research with interested parties to ensure that the exploitation of this clean, predictable and sustainable energy resource is done so in a manner that does not have a detrimental effect on the species and habitats in the area.”

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