First Large-Scale Tidal Energy Farm Is Launched
On the very northeastern tip of rural Scotland lies the ocean strait of Inner Sound. The passage contains the deepest section of the United Kingdom’s territorial waters, at a maximum depth of 323 meters. The tides in the region are so strong, swelling up to 5 meters per second, that ships need to pass through with great caution.
Despite being located in deep, rural Scotland, the site has a reliable connection to the grid. (Image courtesy of Atlantis Resources.)
Instead of danger, engineers saw the energy potential in the raging waters and chose the site for a tidal energy farm – when finished, they claim that it will be the first large-scale project of its kind.
The MeyGen tidal energy project is owned and operated by Edinburgh-based developer Atlantis Resources, developer of commercial-scale tidal energy projects. Among its ongoing engineering projects are tidal farms in the Bay of Funday, Nova Scotia, Canada; Daishan, Zhejiang, China; and Mundra, Gujarat, India.
Recently, the first turbine for the project was unveiled outside the Scotland town of Iverness. The plan is to test its performance in the ocean strait, and if successful, follow it by hundreds more.
A Loch Ness Monster of Renewable Energy
Atlantis Resources estimates that there are 29 TWh of annual potential energy in the tidal currents surrounding the UK island and that 11 TWh of this is available in Pentland Firth, the far north region of Scotland where Inner Sound is located. When the full-scale project is built, it will consist of 269 turbines, producing electricity at a capacity of 398 MW, enough to power 175,000 homes.
The project is currently in phase 1a, which consists of deploying just four of those turbines. The first turbine that was recently launched measured at about 15 meters tall, with blades 16 meters in diameter, and weighing almost 200 tons. Each of these first four turbines will have an electrical capacity of 1.5 megawatts.
A schematic of the turbines for phase 1A of the project. (Image courtesy of Atlantis Resources.)
The electrical capacity of each of these turbines was not chosen lightly. After extensive testing on pilot turbines starting at 1 megawatt, the capacity was steadily increased for the optimal output of energy at the best cost without presenting any technical challenges.
Similar to wind energy, the tidal turbines have three blades with a pitching system and a yaw mechanism to safely turn the turbine 180° when the tide changes direction.
Construction takes place for phase 1a of the project. (Image courtesy of Atlantis Resources.)
The project is supposed to generate £275 million, or USD$360 million, for the country’s economy. To learn more, visit the websites of Atlantis Resources and MeyGen. You can also see the project video below.