On 24th August I wrote a blog which in part enthused about the excellent Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon proposal. This month the news is that MeyGen have obtained planning permission for an impressive tidal stream system, to be built in the Pentland Firth between the Orkney Islands and the Scottish mainland. Initially a 9MW demonstration project will be built, scaling up to 86MW by 2020: a very useful amount of electricity, but much less than the 240MW proposed for the Swansea project.
These two projects demonstrate two of the principle technologies for harvesting predictable, reliable tidal energy. Each project is designed to suit a different local situation. Swansea Bay has a massive tidal range in a sheltered bay with little tidal current: perfect for building a tidal lagoon, whereas Pentland Firth has less tidal range but enormously powerful tidal currents flowing back and forth between the Atlantic and North Seas, squeezed between the Orkneys and Scottish mainland: perfect for tidal stream technologies. These both look to my mind to be projects worth supporting.
In April 2010 I wrote a blog mentioning the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), which hosts a greater concentration of grid connected wave and tidal test facilities than anywhere else in the world. This facility has continued to expand over the last three years and is helping lay the foundations of a most useful future industry. The MeyGen tidal stream project in the Pentland Firth and the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project represent the first two large scale commercial deployments of tidal energy in the UK. Most exciting: I’ll keep an eye out for future developments!
BBC on Pentland Firth project http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24100811