World’s largest tidal stream project receives £100m investment boost

Infrastructure investor Equitix will allocate more than £100m to Scottish tidal power, after entering into a partnership agreement with leading developer Atlantis to aid the development of the world's largest tidal stream project.

The pair will collaborate to develop the Atlantis portfolio of tidal power projects in Scotland, including the first phase of the 86 MW MeyGen tidal energy project in the Pentland Firth, labelled as the world’s largest tidal stream project under construction.

MeyGen, the joint venture between Atlantis, investment bank Morgan Stanley and independent power generator GDF SUEZ, has already received £51m in capital investment and is on course to start producing electricity by this summer. The Pentland Firth installation could eventually deliver up to 398MW tidal stream energy generation.

Atlantis chief executive Tim Cornelius said: “This agreement with Equitix, a leading infrastructure investment specialist, is an important step for us in engaging a partner with both vital experience of large infrastructure projects and access to extensive capital, coupled with a desire to work with us to accelerate the further development of the UK’s tidal power industry.”

Tidal investment

Equitix plans to acquire at least 25% of each “project vehicle” Atlantis develops for tidal power initiatives in Scotland. Development of the entire portfolio, which stands at a total of almost 650MW, could cost Atlantis almost £500m in the next two years. Construction will be funded through a mixture of debt, equity and grants.

Commenting on the investment plans, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “It’s great to hear of plans by investors to get behind Scotland’s tidal power industry in a big way. 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 skilled, green jobs.

“Our coasts and islands are rich in renewables potential which could bring many economic and social benefits to remoter parts of the country. However, if we are to secure these benefits we need each of the political parties to prioritise renewables and commit to ensuring Scotland becomes the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation by 2030.”

Commercial waves

Scotland has long been a pioneer in the development of wave energy and has recently provided significant funding for developers to facilitate advancement of the technology.

Last summer, the Scottish Government funded £7m to 16 different wave energy developers in order to help them commercialise their technologies. The Government support illustrates an overarching aim to increase Scotland’s renewable energy output, which generated more than a quarter of the UK’s green electricity last year.

Scotland’s commitment to the future of tidal and wave energy has not been equalled by the rest of the country, despite the Department of Energy & Climate Change’s (DECC) estimate that theoretical tidal power capacity in the UK could range up to 30GW, equivalent to about 12% of electric demand.

Fears exist about the future of tidal power at the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project after the Government announced it will launch an independent review into the feasibility of tidal lagoon energy in the UK.

Earlier this year, the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) Ocean Energy Group claimed that Britain’s wave and tidal energy sector has been shackled by “detrimental” EU regulatory burdens that continue to inhibit industry growth. 

George Ogleby

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