Developer hails ‘crown jewel’ in Scotland’s marine energy revolution

a-18MeyGen plans to deploy 400 Atlantis and TGL turbines after securing Crown Estate lease for Inner Sound project, while Marine Energy Centre celebrates power deal

Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 27 Oct 2010

Scotland’s emerging wave and tidal sector received a major boost today after a consortium of firms won the right to develop one of the world’s largest commercial tidal stream energy projects.

MeyGen, a group led by Morgan Stanley, International Power and tidal technology provider Atlantis, confirmed today that it has secured a lease from the Crown Estate to deploy 400 tidal turbines in the Inner Sound, potentially generating 400MW in one of the fastest-flowing tidal areas of the Pentland Firth.

The award will put an end to doubt over the fate of the Inner Sound project, after the preferred bidder from the original competitive round withdrew, leaving the Crown Estate to re-tender the zone in April.

The project will boost the potential capacity of the entire Pentland Firth and Orkney projects to 1.6GW, up from the 1.2GW announced after the first round of lease awards.

On the back of the award, the Crown Estate also pledged to increase its funding to help develop the projects from its current level of £4m to £5.6m.

MeyGen chief executive Dan Pearson called the Inner Sound “the crown jewel” of the Pentland Firth projects, due to its high-quality tidal resource and close proximity to the mainland for grid connection.

“MeyGen has the potential to be a flagship marine energy project,” he said in a statement.

However, he acknowledged that numerous challenges lie ahead for the project. “The challenge now is to transform that potential into reality,” he said.

A phased installation programme will see MeyGen install 400 turbines by 2020. The first demonstration phase will deploy up to 10MW of capacity using TGL Rolls-Royce 500kW turbines as well as Atlantis’ AK1000 turbines.

The award marks a second step forward for the nascent wave and tidal energy sector this week, after SmartestEnergy yesterday agreed to buy all the power generated from the test devices at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in the Orkney Islands.

EMEC hopes the power purchase agreement (PPA) will boost its appeal to technology developers as it will allow them to earn income for any energy generated during testing.

When all 12 test berths are full, SmartestEnergy will be able to buy 11MW of energy from EMEC.

EMEC managing director Neil Kermode said the deal marked an important step in the maturity of the industry.

“The PPA is crucial to show that marine energy is not just a concept or a distant dream, but a fully commercial reality which can play its part in generating industrial levels of power,” he said.

Source: Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen
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