£1.6 billion tidal farm project off coast of Scotland is the world’s first

The world’s first major tidal energy project – a £1.6 billion underwater farm of 400 turbines off northern Scotland – has been given the go-ahead by the Crown Estate.

When complete in 2020, the Pentland Firth project will generate enough electricity for 400,000 homes. It will also provide employment for hundreds of former nuclear workers at nearby Dounreay who will make the 100ft high double-bladed turbines.

There are further plans to exploit the Pentland Firth over the next two decades, installing 1,000 turbines that will generate 1.6 gigawatts of energy, enough for more than a million homes.

The decision by the Crown Estate to offer the lease to the MeyGen consortium is regarded as the most significant investment in tidal energy so far. MeyGen is a joint venture between International Power (45 per cent), US investment bank Morgan Stanley (45 per cent) and Singapore tidal company Atlantis Resources (ten per cent).

Experts have dubbed the Pentland Firth the Crown Jewel of marine energy sites because the tidal waters there are among the fiercest in the world. Water flows at just over four knots, allowing each of the huge structures to generate one megawatt of energy without significant interruption.

The turbines will be lined up 175 yards apart, weighted down by scrap metal. As the water depth in the Pentland Firth is about 130ft, small craft will be able to sail over the area of about four square miles.

Vessels with a draught of morethan 32ft are automatically routed round the north of the Orkneys.

Because the waters are so rough, little fishing takes place and there is no danger to fish life as the blades revolve so slowly, say experts.

The turbine farm, which will be clearly marked on charts, is well away from sensitive military areas where Royal Navy submarines operate.

The turbines will be built at new factories near Dounreay. A prototype designed in Britain by Atlantis and built in Newcastle upon Tyne has been operating off the Orkneys for the past two years.

MeyGen chief Dan Pearson said: ‘We believe this will be a flagship marine power project.’

As the Crown Estate owns the seabed around Britain, it will be paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in rent for the turbine scheme.

The Royal family, which will soon benefit by taking 15 per cent of the Crown Estate profit, may also be able to enjoy renewable energy from the Pentland Firth project.

The royal Castle of Mey, which Prince Charles visits every year, is a few miles from the tidal farm site, which lies between the Caithness coast and the island of Stroma.


Source: By Tom Mcghie, Mail Online
Story from: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1325152/-BILLION-PROJECT-OFF-COAST-OF-SCOTLAND-IS-THE-WORLD-S-FIRST.html

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