Monday, September 29, 2008

ScottishPower plans world's largest tidal power project


Scotland and Ireland have been picked for a tidal power project providing enough electricity for 40,000 homes. ScottishPower Renewables announced the plan today, which will see carbon-free energy generated off the coast at Pentland Firth and the Sound of Islay in Scotland, and North Antrim in Northern Ireland.

At each location, up to 20 underwater turbines will each generate 1 megawatt (MW) of power from the tidal stream. Together, the tidal power stations should generate a total of 60 megawatts. That's big. OpenHydro, which was the first company to export tidal energy to the national grid, is only generating 0.25 megawatts at its installation off Orkney.

"Pentland Firth alone contains enough tidal energy to meet a third of Scotland�s power requirements," says Keith Anderson, Director at ScottishPower Renewables.

The technology behind the plans is the L�nstr�m Norwegian turbine design by Hammerfest Str�m AS. ScottishPower hopes the turbines will be operation by 2011.

"Scotland has a marine energy resource which is unrivalled in Europe," Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said today. "We have an estimated 25 per cent of Europe's tidal resource and 10 per cent of its wave potential."

Tidal power's advocates argue that its advantage over wave power and other renewable sources is its predictability. We know when the tide comes.

Unlike the controversial Severn tidal barrage, the new sites will generate electricity from tidal stream power. So far, tidal stream has appeared to have no negative environmental impact.

While tidal power is currently a minnow in UK electricity generation, it has huge potential to rival wind turbines as a major source of green power.

Innovative new designs are also cropping up regularly -- check out Oxford University's prototype for a new horizontal tidal turbine.

No comments: