Boost for huge Scots

Scotland plan’s to host the world’s largest tidal energy project have moved a step closer after Norwegian renewables giant Statkraft joined the consortium backing the £250m scheme.

The project, which will create over 700 jobs, is to build a large data centre powered by tidal energy, in a remote area on the north Scotland coast dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of tidal energy”.

Data centres – warehouses containing powerful computers – consume vast amounts of energy. Because they require constant cooling, it makes sense to locate them in cold regions, although often remote locations do not have access to sufficient electricity to power them.

Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis Resources Corporation, the firm behind the 150MW project in the Pentland Firth, said tidal power for new data centres was the perfect solution.

Experts believe that the strong currents in the firth, between the Scottish mainland and the Orkneys, could generate over 1GW of renewable energy – as much as a large coal-fired plant.

Tomorrow, Atlantis will announce that it has raised $14m from existing investors, which include Morgan Stanley as well as new backer Statkraft.

Cornelius added: “Statkraft is a real player in the renewables market and will encourage other utilities to come on board. To get their validation is a big step forward for the renewable energy industry in the UK.”

It is a rare piece of good news for the UK’s renewables industry. Investment has ground to a halt, despite Gordon Brown’s rhetoric about the “Green New Deal” to help the UK out of recession.

The Observer has learnt that a £1bn public-private funding body, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), is allowing several multinationals to secure exclusive licences to British renewable developers’ innovations in return for providing funding. The firms in question include BP, Shell, E.ON and French government-controlled EDF.

Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Turbines, said: “The danger is that organisations like the ETI will only hasten the development overseas of technologies which originated in the UK. The UK is in danger of losing an opportunity to develop a world-leading domestic marine energy industry if the only way developers can get funding is by giving up their intellectual property to multinationals.”

An ETI spokesman said: “The ETI puts in place mutually acceptable IP arrangements as part of commercial contract negotiations,” adding that this was similar to other such initiatives.


Source: By Tim Webb, The Observer
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