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The first grid connected tidal device in Scotland

A press release issued by Highlands & Islands Enterprise

A pioneering tidal scheme has taken a significant step forward this week when it began generating electricity on to the National Grid.

OpenHydro’s tidal device has become Scotland’s first grid-connected tidal device to produce electricity from the tides. The device has been installed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) test site at the Fall of Warness, off the island of Eday in Orkney.

EMEC’s role is to support the development of wave and tidal energy devices and to aid the evolution of the technology from the prototype stage into the commercial market place. The test centre was established to support the advancement of marine energy technologies by a consortium of public sector partners, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The centre operates internationally accredited test sites for wave and tidal energy converters in Atlantic waters off Stromness.

Irish company OpenHydro installed its device at EMEC in 2006 and since then has undertaken a series of trials there. The open-centre turbine is designed to be deployed directly on the seabed – silent and invisible from the surface and presenting no navigational hazard.

Later this year, another tidal device – the SeaGen – developed by Marine Current Turbines is to be connected to the National Grid at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Other marine technologies, both tidal and wave power, are at various stages of research and development. Over the next two years, more devices are expected to be tested at EMEC, many of which were awarded support under the Scottish Government’s Wave and Tidal Energy Scheme.

Energy Minister Jim Mather said: “This is the first time in Scotland that homes will be powered using the energy of the tides – a massive step forward for Scottish research and technology. Scotland has unrivalled potential to generate clean, green energy from our seas. Marine power lies at the heart of our ambitions to develop a vibrant renewables sector, creating jobs and boosting economic growth while tackling climate change. Our wave and tidal energy support scheme is helping turn developing technology, like the open-centre turbine, into a reality. At EMEC and elsewhere we are seeing the marine energy sector making significant strides in the design and deployment of devices. I congratulate OpenHydro on achieving this Scottish first for the tidal energy sector, which brings us one step closer to achieving our ambitions.”

Neil Kermode, EMEC’s managing director, said: “This is a very exciting project. Electricity has been generated onto the National Grid through the Caldale Substation on Eday by harnessing the power of the tides around the shores. Huge efforts in terms of planning and preparation have gone into ensuring the success of this project. OpenHydro’s vision is to deploy farms of tidal turbines under the world’s oceans and we are delighted that EMEC has been able to support the delivery of this key milestone. The wave and tidal resource around Scotland’s coasts is so significant that many other developers across the world are striving to develop devices capable of harnessing the force of our tides and waves. The oceans are a huge potential source of sustainable energy. If we can harvest even a small quantity of the power contained within them, we can deliver a significant share of the electricity needs of countries around the world.”

James Ives, OpenHydro’s chief executive, said: “The OpenHydro turbine is one of the first tidal technologies in the world to reach the stage of permanent deployment at sea and is the accumulation of 10 years of design and development work. Mr Ives added: “Tidal energy sets itself apart from other forms of renewable energy in that it is completely predictable. It is the fastest growing emerging technology in the renewable energy sector and is set to make a major contribution to the security of energy supply and to carbon-free energy generation.”

Calum Davidson, head of key sectors at HIE, said: “This provides further validation of the world-leading role that EMEC, Orkney and the Highlands and Islands is playing in this vitally important new energy sector. The fact that this pioneering project has reached this stage is testament to the determination and hard work of OpenHydro and its partners. Now, the dream of generating substantial amounts of energy from the sea is within our grasp.”

EMEC was established and funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Government, Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Enterprise, The Carbon Trust, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR), and with the support of European Regional Development Funding. EMEC provides the only grid-connected facilities in the world for testing tidal and wave energy technologies.

Following the successful completion of these initial tests onto the National Grid by OpenHydro, the company will over the coming weeks and months move into extended operation consistent with its test programme.

Quotes:

Dr Mark Williamson, director of innovations for the Carbon Trust, said: “In the UK, marine energy has the potential to deliver up to 20 per cent of our electricity need. Centres such as EMEC play a crucial role in the development of wave and tidal energy technology. The Carbon Trust continues to support such projects – reinforcing the UK’s leading position in the marine renewable energy field and accelerating progress in this area.”

Stephen Hagan, Orkney Islands Council convener, said: “Orkney is widely acknowledged as having some of the best renewable energy resources in the world and for the continued development of this there are a number of challenges ahead. It is encouraging to see the progress being made by EMEC and we as a Council feel that this is a significant step forward in further cementing Orkney’s world-class reputation within the renewable energy industry.”

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