Tidal electricity generation
I was excited to see another step forward in tapping into a huge clean energy resource the UK possesses, and one which could trade on our marine engineering skills and provide jobs and a valuable export industry.
The Scottish Government last week approved plans for a tidal array generating 10MW (enough to power 5,000 homes) to be sited in the Sound of Islay on Scotland's west coast. this will triple the UK's current marine energy output. this will be the world's first tidal array, comprising 10 tidal turbines, each with a 1MW output, and should be online in 2013. Scottish Power Renewables, in collaboration with Hammerfest Strom, have been working on this for six or so years now, and will be monitoring the scheme carefully. The devices have been tested in Orkney at the European Marine Energy Centre and work on the Islay project will start next year. They will then aim to build an even bigger tidal farm in the Pentland Firth capable of producing 1600 MW.
Scotland and the UK are currently seen as world leaders in marine energy and the Scottish Government has been keen to promote it, recognising that it could be a huge export earner for the country as well as a source of clean energy. Scotland has one of the best tidal resources anywhere in the world, with 25% of Europe's tidal power, and is an obvious proving ground for the technology. It could form a useful addition to the mix of clean energy generation, because while it is intermittent, it is (unlike wind) totally predictable.
I like the idea of marine energy. Denmark became a world leader in wind generation many years ago and it now generates a third of their export income. Together with initiatives like the Pelamis wave energy device, the UK could become the Denmark of marine energy.
This is just one of the stories from my energy talk