Consent was awarded to Meygen, a joint venture between investment bank Morgan Stanley, independent power generator GDF SUEZ and tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources Corporation, by the Scottish Government for the 86 Megawatt tidal energy project.

The first phase of the project will see six tidal turbines commissioned in the inner sound of the Pentland Firth, before the subsequent phases take the project up to the consented limit of 86MW and beyond to the leased capacity of 398 Megawatt.

A recent study by Oxford University noted that the Pentland Firth could generate 1.9 Gigawatts of clean electricity.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “This is a major step forward for Scotland’s marine renewable energy industry. When fully operational, the 86 megawatt array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes – around 40% of homes in the Highlands. This exciting development in the waters around Orkney is just the first phase for a site that could eventually yield up to 398MW.”

Ewing also announced this week that Wave developers Aquamarine Power Limited and Pelamis Wave Power are to share a percentage of the £13m wave “first array” support programme, part of the Scottish Government’s Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund.

Ewing said: “We must tackle climate change. We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through better and more efficient uses of energy. Marine energy – a home-grown technology with huge potential – is part of the solution.”

The Carbon Trust has estimated wave and tidal resources could provide 20% of the UK’s electricity.

Commenting on the announcements, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “It has been estimated that wave and tidal power could provide 20% of the UK’s electricity and Scotland is well placed to lead in developing the technologies to turn this potential into a reality while create thousands of green jobs at the same time.

“However, as there is little point in generating huge amounts of marine renewable energy on Scotland’s islands if it cannot also be got to the mainland, we now need UK and Scottish Ministers to find a way forward that enables us to harness the full potential of this clean energy source.

Langs said alongside energy saving measures, marine renewables will have a critical role to play in helping Scotland reduce climate emissions as it looks to phase out fossil fuels and nuclear power.

“With careful planning we can harness Scotland’s huge wave and tidal energy to help cut our climate emissions, while safeguarding the nation’s tremendous marine environment.,” he said.

Leigh Stringer

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