World-first Anglesey 'sea kite' tidal project approved
A £25m tidal energy project which uses underwater "kites" to harness power has been awarded a marine licence to trial its technology off the Anglesey coast.
Swedish-based Minesto has been granted permission by Natural Resources Wales to anchor one of the devices in the sea near Holyhead.
It came after the impact on wildlife was deemed to be "not significant".
If successful, the company said it would add more kites to power about 8,000 households in total.
Developers said it would be the first full-scale operation of its kind in the world, following ocean testing off Northern Ireland.
The technology uses tidal currents to force water through a turbine as the underwater kites - known as Deep Green devices - "fly" through the sea.
The marine licence gives the green light for a 0.5MW kite, but Minesto hopes more will later be added, until the 10MW site is fully operational.
The site - four miles (6.5km) off Anglesey - was chosen because it would not interfere with shipping lanes and to minimise the impact on other sea users.
An environmental impact assessment also concluded there would not be a significant impact on fisheries, marine mammals, sea birds, marine archaeology and cultural heritage.
Ylva Sörqvist Hultgren, site development manager at Minesto, said: "This first step of implementing our unique technology in commercial scale is obviously an important one, and it is therefore satisfying to have reached this milestone."
The kite is expected to be installed later this year but electricity generation for use on the National Grid is not expected to happen before 2019 at the earliest.
Eleanor Smart, senior permitting team leader for Natural Resources Wales, confirmed a marine licence had been granted for one underwater kite.
"We scrutinise applications such as this to make sure the licences we issue protect the environment and other activities in the marine environment," she said.
"The information we have shows that this proposal does not pose an unacceptable threat to the environment.
"If the developer wants to place more of these devices on the sea bed in this area, they will need further permits from us before they can go ahead."