World's first grid-connected tidal array deployed in the Shetlands

Scotland's efforts to become a fully-renewable nation received another boost this month, after a tidal array off the coast of the Shetlands Islands became the world's first to connect to the grid.

The new array will harness a fraction of the estimated 29 terawatt hours (TWh) of potential energy per year that could be sourced from tidal currents off the UK coast

The new array will harness a fraction of the estimated 29 terawatt hours (TWh) of potential energy per year that could be sourced from tidal currents off the UK coast

The second in a set of three 100Kw turbines was deployed in August, lining up alongside the first turbine, which was installed in Bluemull Sound in March 2016. While the first turbine has been operational and grid-connected for five months, the addition of a second turbine marks the first time globally that a fully-operational tidal array has been connected to the grid.

Commenting on the milestone, WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks said: "News that power has been exported to grid for the first time by a pair of tidal devices marks yet another major milestone on Scotland's journey to becoming a fully renewable nation.

“With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create green jobs right across the country.”

The array, which has been developed by tidal energy company Nova Innovation, is comprised of 100% European content, with Scottish companies accounting for 80% of the projects supply chain.

Nova Innovation will now work with Belgian renewable energy firm ELSA to install the final turbine of the array – which could form an integral landmark of a tidal energy market potentially worth £126bn by 2050.

Also commenting on the project, director of policy at Scottish Renewables Jenny Hogan said: “The country is already home to some of the most advanced marine energy technologies anywhere, as well as the European Marine Energy Centre: arguably the most advanced marine energy proving site in the world.
“With companies like Nova and others all working on developing this cutting-edge technology, the sector holds huge promise for the future.”

New-wave projects

The Shetland array is the latest in Scotland’s tidal energy boost that aims to have the country powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030.

The country will house the world’s largest tidal stream project, through developers Atlantis and infrastructure firm Equitix, which will generate 86 MW of tidal energy in the Pentland Firth.

Outside of Scotland, green energy supplier Ecotricity has established plans to construct Britain’s first tidal lagoon site for the eastern side of the Swansea Bay, which has been delayed over feasibility and cost concerns.

The Swansea Bay project, amongst others, could inadvertently be boosted by the UK’s impending departure from the European Union (EU), with the Renewable Energy Association's (REA) Ocean Energy Group claiming that previous EU legislation had proved “detrimental” to the UK’s wave and tidal sector.

Alex Baldwin


| renewables | tidal energy | Scotland


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