Highlands & Islands

First electricity from tidal power scheme in Scotland

Tidal turbine being lowered in Inner Sound Image copyright Atlantis Resources
Image caption The tidal turbine being lowered in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth

A tidal power scheme in the Inner Sound of Scotland's Pentland Firth has generated electricity for the first time.

A single turbine in Atlantis Resources' MeyGen project off the Caithness coast has been exporting electricity.

The device is the first of four 1.5MW tidal stream turbines that are to be installed in the Inner Sound.

Atlantis hopes to expand the project to have dozens of turbines generating about 400MW of electricity.

The generation of the first electricity follows work last year to lay subsea cables from the tidal power site to the shore, and the installation this year of four foundations on the seabed for the devices.

It also comes just months after Nova Innovation said its two-turbine Bluemull Sound project in Shetland had become the first offshore tidal array in the world to deliver electricity to the grid.

Image copyright Frank Bradford
Image caption Subsea cables between the site and shore were laid in 2015

The company's Tim Cornelius said: "This is the moment we have been working towards since we first identified the MeyGen site back in 2007.

"I am immensely proud of and grateful for the remarkable team of people who have contributed to this milestone - our suppliers, our funders, our supportive shareholders, and of course the project team, whose commitment, tenacity and belief have been without equal.

"I look forward to bringing more news of the project development over the coming weeks and months as we move into the full operational phase."

Image copyright Atlantis Resources
Image caption The tidal scheme site in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth

Mr Cornelius added: "It's especially exciting to be making this announcement on the morning after the first 'super moon' in 68 years - last night, those of us with clear skies were able to get a good view of the powerhouse behind tidal energy, and be reminded that even in times like these there are still predictions we can rely on."

MeyGen has been described as the world's first large-scale tidal energy farm.

The first phase of the MeyGen project has been funded through a combination of debt, equity and grants from Atlantis, which is the majority owner of the scheme, and also Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Crown Estate and the former Department for Energy and Climate Change

The Scottish government's has provided £23m of funding to help develop the tidal stream farm.

Atlantis hopes to eventually expand the project to up to 269 turbines, with completed turbines being transported north by sea from the Nigg Energy Park on the Cromarty Firth to the tidal stream farm site in the Inner Sound.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a turbine at Nigg in September.

Image copyright Atlantis Resources
Image caption Foundations for four tidal turbines were laid earlier this year
Image copyright Atlantis Resources
Image copyright Atlantis Resources
Image caption An image showing part of a turbine foundation on the seabed of the Inner Sound

WWF Scotland has welcomed the announcement of the first electricity to be generated at the MeyGen site.

Director Lang Banks said: "News of the first electricity to come from what will hopefully become one of the world's largest tidal power schemes is a really exciting moment. Well done to all those involved.

"Coming only a few months after turbines off Shetland generated their first power, it's a sign that Scotland is really starting to make progress in harnessing the power of our seas."

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