Coal, Renewables

Remote island community to lead Scotland’s first tidal energy project

3 April 2008 – A remote Scottish island community has given overwhelming approval to develop a 2 MW tidal energy project, which will be the first in the country.

The isle of Islay has backed the Islay Energy Trust (IET) to lead the development of Scotland’s first commercial-sized tidal energy project in collaboration with The Robert Gordon University (RGU), Aberdeen.

The proposed project is likely to consist of four to six turbine devices installed in the Sound of Islay. The development phases are expected to cost up to £750 000 ($1.5m) and take around three years to complete. Once in operation, revenue would be generated from electricity sales.

It is hoped to complete the pre-feasibility study, which will evaluate potential tidal resources, locate possible sites for the underwater turbines, and prepare for the environmental impact assessment by the end of this summer.

No decision has yet been taken on the type of technology to be installed. The process of selecting a suitable tidal device will be based on a set of technical, commercial and environmental criteria and subject to independent verification.

IET and RGU will be consulting widely with stakeholders, including the Crown
Estate, local fishermen, ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne and Argyll & Bute Council, tidal technology developers, the Scottish and Westminster Governments, Scottish Natural Heritage.

Islay is already home to the world’s first commercial wave power station – Wavegen’s Limpet at Portnahaven. This new proposal to develop tidal resources would represent a major step forward in the commercialisation of tidal energy exploitation, which could ultimately generate sufficient electricity to supply around five per cent of the UK’s demand.

It is estimated that marine energy could comprise around one-third of Scotland’s renewable energy resources; in particular, the seas around the Isle of Islay, hold significant potential, second only to those around the Orkney Islands.