Development of the largest tidal array in Europe has today been given the go-ahead after Scottish Ministers awarded consent to build the first tidal energy project in the Pentland Firth.
MeyGen Limited, a competitor in the Scottish Government’s Saltire Prize, has been given the go ahead to install the tidal array in stages, beginning with a nine megawatt demonstration project of up to six turbines.
MeyGen plans to build an initial demonstration array of up to 6 turbines, with construction starting in early 2014 and turbines commissioned in 2015. This initial array will provide valuable environmental data for the subsequent phases and the wider tidal energy industry.
Ed Rollings, Environment & Consents Manager of MeyGen, said: “The award of this consent is the culmination of over 4 years of environmental work and extensive consultation with stakeholders and the local community in Caithness.
“The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region is an internationally important area for wildlife and we are committed to continuing research with interested parties to ensure that the exploitation of this clean, predictable and sustainable energy resource is done so in a manner that does not have a detrimental effect on the species and habitats in the area.”
Ahead of the Scottish Renewables Marine Conference, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Today, we have granted consent to MeyGen Limited to develop the largest tidal turbine array in Europe and the first commercial project off these shores.
“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 per cent 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 398 megawatts.”