Tidal energy project launches in Scotland 

Posted: September 13, 2016 by oldbrew in Energy, Tides, turbines
Credit: Atlantis Resources

Credit: Atlantis Resources

Heard it before? Questions to be addressed include the economics of this type of project and the long-term reliability of the technology in corrosive seawater. Similar previous attempts have not got very far.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today launched a 398 MW tidal stream energy project, reports PEI. The MeyGen scheme is owned by Atlantis Resources, backed by £23m of Scottish government investment, and located in Scotland’s Pentland Firth.

A fully assembled 1.5 MW Atlantis tidal power turbine with foundations was unveiled today at a ceremony is Nigg before being loaded onto a jack-up vessel and transported to the MeyGen for installation.

In total, four turbines will be installed this month as part of the first 6 MW phase of the scheme and they will be the first of 269 turbines to be installed at the site.

Sturgeon said she was “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”.

Atlantis Resources chief executive Tim Cornelius said: “Today marks a historic milestone not just for Atlantis and our project partners, but for the entire global tidal power industry. 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.”

Full report: Tidal energy project launches in Scotland – Power Engineering International

  1. oldbrew says:

    This might be a better bet…

    Hurricane Energy oil strike fuels hope of North Sea renaissance
    15:40 12 Sep 2016

    The find has been confirmed as one of the biggest on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) in recent history, with estimates putting possible reserves at half a billion barrels.

    NB it’s not in the North Sea, but on the Atlantic shelf west of Shetland [at the ‘Lancaster’ site]

  2. dscott says:

    Will this type of energy recovery using the tide produce a harmonic hum that affects marine life? Anyone study the noise put off by a spinning propeller? What do the environmental impact statements say about this?

    Second question, how much of this project requires a subsidy to install on a capital basis and then an on going subsidy on a Net Operating Basis? In other words, is this an economically sustainable means to produce electricity or is this yet another pie in the sky solution like wind energy that kills birds, and doesn’t pay for itself unless the government subsidizes it’s operation and rate payers are getting over charged for electrical production?

  3. ivan says:

    Another renewable mess that is long on PR and very short on any technical data and costs.

    The one thing on the Atlantis Resources site that is interesting is The Contracts for Difference
    (CfD) price for tidal stream energy has been set at £305/MWh (real, 2012£); by comparison, offshore wind, a substantially more established technology, is entitled to a CfD price of £155/MWh (real, 2012£).
    so it would appear that they will be rolling in the money.

  4. oldbrew says:

    @ dscott
    The sea is probably quite noisy anyway in the Pentland Firth (which isn’t a real firth).

    The Firth is well known for the strength of its tides, which are among the fastest in the world, a speed of 30 kilometres per hour (16 kn) being reported close west of Pentland Skerries. The force of the tides gives rise to overfalls and tidal races which can occur at different stages of the tide.


    So this is considered the best site in Scotland for fast tides. Anywhere else would in theory perform worse in terms of tidal power.

    Wikipedia: In July 2013 Dr Thomas Adcock of Oxford University stated that the Firth “is almost certainly the best site for tidal stream power in the world”

    PS it won’t kill any birds unless they’re divers because it’s underwater.

  5. Jerry says:

    Tidal power is inclemently better than wind power in one respect. The tides are the more predictable. But, still, there will be no power during the change from ebb tide to advancing tide, and then power increasing to a maximum at maximum current speed before declining again. The requirement for alternative backup power (nuclear, coal, gas, etc.) remains.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Jerry – predictable, yes. But the tide times vary daily as we know, so power output will always be a ‘moving target’ relative to the 24 hour clock.

  7. BLACK PEARL says:

    Will this attract dolphins & sharks with all the ‘chumming’ of the waters by those spinning blades I wonder ?

  8. Mjw says:

    Anybody running a book on when this thing collapses in a flaming pile of dung?

  9. Mjw says:

    The Firth is well known for the strength of its tides, which are among the fastest in the world, a speed of 30 kilometres per hour to 0 kph to 30 kph to 0 kph every day.

  10. oldbrew says:

    Some websites say tidal power is only significant for about 10 hours in every 24.

    Not sure the Scottish tech is ‘historic’ as New York has had tidal turbines since the early 2000’s, and the company supplying them also has plans in the UK.

    ‘Verdant Isles Ltd. Formed to Develop Tidal Energy Projects in Ireland and UK
    (March 2016) — Verdant Power has partnered with Belleville Duggan Renewables Ltd. to develop commercial tidal energy projects at sites in Ireland and the UK under the joint venture Verdant Isles Ltd.’

    ‘Verdant Power is a world leader in developing marine & hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies and projects, generating clean renewable energy from tidal and river currents.’

  11. Harry Passfield says:

    From the website I note that these turbines are anchored to the seabed, unlike Strangford Lough’s turbines which could be raised for maintenance. As I understand it, Strangford Lough is now discontinued. I wonder if the maintenance costs were too great – which must be even greater when you’ve got 269 of these suckers anchored in deep water.
    I’d lay money on the number actually installed before the plug is pulled at <100.

  12. gregole says:

    Those turbines are going to survive long-term in tides of 30 kph submerged in sea water? Color me skeptical. Methinks they will be destroyed in short order or shortly thereafter.

  13. Jerry says:

    On second thought and depending on local terrain, it might be possible to replicate in some form the system employed at Grand Coulee Dam here in Washington state. During the night when power demands are low, the energy produced by the turbines behind the dam pump water several hundred feet upward, where the pumped water is stored in a lake. During the day, when power requirements are high, this water then flows backward through the pumping system, producing power additional to that of the turbines devoted solely to power generation. Thus, there would need to be land available for the size and volume of the lake and at sufficient increase in elevation above the tidal area. I do not know if this is the case. However, if this scheme could be made to work, the result would be low-cost hydroelectric power.

  14. dscott says:

    Oldbrew, you have not answered the question with your comment on the noise issue, maybe that’s my fault for assuming you remember that some time ago the US Navy was scolded for using ultra low frequency transmission that studies have indicated MAY harm or disrupt dolphins and whales. The low frequency hum or harmonics in water from a spinning tide generator blade MAY put off a low frequency harmonic doing the same thing. Has it been studied? It would be a shame to invest millions of Pounds Sterling only to find out that eco friendly green energy is just as harmful to aquatic life as wind turbines are to birds and people with their harmonics.

    The underlying point is that like with all these eco green scams making unfounded claims they are green because they are NOT studied until after the fact and the manufacturers and installing contractors have made their money leaving consumers and investors holding the bag with expensive, unsustainable, useless equipment.

  15. oldbrew says:

    A year ago they were saying ‘Our current knowledge of how marine wildlife interacts with tidal turbine arrays is limited’

    Without any turbines in operation this probably hasn’t changed much since then. It seems that sudden pressure changes could affect some species of fish at least, e.g. they might instantly lose their required buoyancy level and either sink to the bottom (too little) or float to the top (too much).

  16. J Martin says:

    If this project works out for them they may then progress to much larger turbines anchored further out. Is removing energy from the North Atlantic conveyor belt system a good idea at a time when some say it may be slowing down ?

  17. oldbrew says:

    Meanwhile: America’s first wave-produced power goes online in Hawaii

    Hawaii would seem a natural site for such technology. As any surfer can tell you, it is blessed with powerful waves. The island state also has the nation’s highest electricity costs—largely because of its heavy reliance on oil delivered by sea—and has a legislative mandate to get 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2045.

    “We’re about, I’d say, a decade behind the Europeans,” said Alexandra De Visser, the Navy’s Hawaii test site project manager.

    And the Europeans still haven’t got past the testing stage.