Scotland is now home to the world’s first large scale tidal energy farm.
It has been hailed as a major milestone in renewable energy innovations. The first turbine of four, unveiled outside Inverness on Monday, weighs almost 200 tonnes, and measures 15 metres in height and 16 metres in diameter.
It will eventually be moved with the other three turbines to the north coast waters of Scotland, between Caithness and Orkney.
This is just the beginning of the tidal farm’s inventory, however, with hopes that it will eventually boast 269 turbines, with a ability to produce 398 megawatts of energy, enough power to bring electricity to 175,000 Scottish homes.
The first four turbines are due to produce 1.5 megawatts each in the initial phase of the project, with tests being undertaken as power increases to make sure the farm is running efficiently and correctly.
The turbines were designed by the MyGen tidal stream project, a task force funded and developed by the renewable energy firm Atlantis Resources which is based in Edinburgh.
At the unveiling of the first turbine on Monday, Tim Cornelius, the Chief Executive of Atlantis Resources, spoke of the positive influence this project will have on renewable energy innovations worldwide.
“Today marks a historic milestone not just for Atlantis and our project partners, but for the entire global tidal power industry”, Cornelius said.
He continued: “It gives me enormous pride to have reached this juncture after 10 years of tireless work, preparation and planning by everyone associated with this project. This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the UK’s future energy mix.
“This is an industry that is creating jobs and Scotland is the undisputed world leader of this high growth sector.”
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon also attended the unveiling ceremony and spoke of the powerful impact this new development will have not just for the world’s climate but for Scotland’s business sector.
“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”, Sturgeon said.
“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.”
Many lobby groups have also hailed the tidal farm as a positive move towards a more sustainable energy sector. Matt Smith, the deputy chief executive of Renewable UK, a green energy campaign group, spoke to The Guardian about the potential impact of this new form of renewable energy being established in Scotland.
“New technology like this will be powering our nation for decades to come”, said Smith.
He continued: “the fact that the first turbine was assembled at what was an oil and gas fabrication yard illustrates the opportunities offered by renewables.
“The official launch of the largest tidal stream energy project in the world marks a significant moment in the commercial development of marine power.”
However, Jenny Hogan, the policy director for Scottish Renewables, a trade organisation based in Glasgow, said that MeyGen and other research bodies should remain cautious as development moves forward on these new forms of technology. She also highlighted the need for continued government support as these new technologies progress.
“This is still an incredibly young technology, and future development is absolutely dependent on continued support from Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels, who have all played a vitally important part in the growth of the sector to date”, Hogan told The Guardian.