Tidal energy could power half of Scotland's electricity needs
Tidal power in the Pentland Firth has the potential to power almost half of Scotland's electricity demands, according to new research.
The report, from Oxford University, calculates that tidal turbines in the currents between the Scottish mainland and the Orkney Islands could generate up to 1.9 Gigawatts of power.
Entitled 'The available power from tidal stream turbines in the Pentland Firth', the report was commissioned and supported by the Energy Technologies Institute.
Lead author of the report Dr Thomas Adcock said: "Our study provides the first robust data about how much energy it would be feasible to extract.
"It also suggests that to be efficient any scheme would have to be "joined up" so that, for example, individual tidal turbines do not cancel each other out and provisions are made to store the greater energy produced by spring tides and feed these back in at neap tides."
Trade association RenewableUK welcomed the report, describing Pentland Firth as the "jewel in the crown", and said it reinforced Scotland's potential as amongst the highest in the world for developing tidal power.
However, RenewableUK argued that there was even more scope for tidal power within the country, with a number of significant alternative locations around Scotland's large coastline and archipelagos.
RenewablUK wind and tidal energy development manager David Krohn said: "Kyle Rhea and Islay are currently under development and have received upfront capital support from the UK Government and the European commission respectively.
"The Crown Estate has granted leases for a further 14 sites across Scotland, including the extremely promising Cantick Head, Brough Ness and Lashy Sound sites.
"In addition, technological advancements made by the industry, such as floating platforms, allow us to extract more energy from tidal flows."