Scotland surges ahead with new 10MW tidal farm

March 18, 2011 by Bob Yirka, report

( -- Taking advantage of the steady sea currents that flow through the underwater canyon walls in the sound of Islay, off the southwest coast of Scotland, between the islands of Islay and Jura, the Scottish energy company ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) has been given the go-ahead by the Scottish government to begin installing 10 underwater HS100 tidal turbines (made by Hammerfest Strom, a Norwegian company) on the ocean floor.

As countries all over the world seek to oil and coal, the UK, and Scotland in particular have come to see the value of tidal currents as a renewable resource, and no wonder; according to John Swinney, the Scottish finance secretary, the waterways around Scotland comprise nearly 25% of Europe’s total tidal resources.

The choice of the HS100 follows up experience learned from the installation of a 300kw experimental operation in Kvalsundet, Norway, which has been running for six years. SPR is also currently installing a single unit in Orkney (the small island chain in the north of Scotland) to provide a learning lab for the eventual installation in the Islay Sound.

The new 10MW current farm, similar in appearance to an underwater wind farm, will be the largest such operation ever undertaken, and is expected to more than double the energy capacity now being used on the existing grid to support over 5000 homes and businesses.

Hammerfest Strom Tidal Turbine Technology

The site chosen is ideal due to the continuous 11 kilometers per hour speed of the current (6.7 mph) between the islands and the relative lack of strong storms; also the need for additional power on the two whisky producing islands will provide a means of expansion for the local malt whisky industry. Harnessing underwater currents is seen by many in the environmental arena as an extremely “green” form of energy production, as the turbines are out of sight and don’t produce any pollution, though there is some concern about the effects of noise on dolphins and whales. All signs indicate that the local citizenry are pleased with the announcement of the project due to the expected injection of cash into the surrounding economy and the jobs that will be created.

The installation of the current farm is expected to cost £40 million ($65 million) and will go a long way for Scotland in meeting its stated goal of deriving 80% its needs from renewable resources by 2020. Work is expected to start in 2012, with completion of the project in 2015, according to SPR chief, Keith Anderson.

Explore further: Sub-sea electricity cable from Scotland to Norway planned

More information: … -the-sound-of-islay/

Related Stories

Sub-sea electricity cable from Scotland to Norway planned

February 4, 2011

( -- A study into a proposed North Sea interconnector will examine the possibility of a sub-sea electricity cable linking Scotland and Norway, according to an announcement earlier this week in Aberdeen by Scotland's ...

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines

December 13, 2010

Harnessing the power of ocean tides has long been imagined, but countries are only now putting it into practice. A demonstration project planned for Puget Sound will be the first tidal energy project on the west coast of ...

Tidal power plant proposed for New York's East River

January 11, 2011

Here's exciting news for anyone who's been watching the fledgling efforts to promote tidal power in the U.S.: A New York energy company that has been testing tidal power in the East River has filed a formal application ...

Recommended for you

Team breaks world record for fast, accurate AI training

November 7, 2018

Researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) have partnered with a team from Tencent Machine Learning to create a new technique for training artificial intelligence (AI) machines faster than ever before while maintaining ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (2) Mar 18, 2011
Typo: £40 million is 65 million USD not 6.5

3.3 million of these turbines would supply ALL of the power needs of the US (29PWh/yr including fossil fuels per Wikipedia) at an up front cost of 21 trillion. Yikes.

Also, at 10 cents per kWh, the installation in this article would pay for itself and start making profit after 7-8 years.

All "back of the napkin" of course.
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 18, 2011
Are the blade speeds sufficient to slice large sea creatures
into pieces ?
5 / 5 (1) Mar 18, 2011
@ iselin - Nice calculations. I think the story really needed to show that...uh...this is economical renewable energy, the golden grail. Missed factor - Mainenance costs - water, being dense will create mechanical stress, and salt water - corrosive, will mean higher maintenance costs.

However it sounds like scottland is particularly well situated for it, compared to the US.

Holoman - doubtful. Water is more forceful than air, so the blades can handle a higher torque conversion and move slower (A lot slower than ship propellers). Also, dolphins and whales aren't the dumbest animals in the sea. They see a giant moving blade like that and will probably avoid it anyways, regardless of the actual danger.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2011
Are the blade speeds sufficient to slice large sea creatures
into pieces ?

No they are not that fast im told.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 19, 2011
I wonder, would shrouding the blades in a venturi increase efficiency?

P.S. @Deesky:

You're my biggest fan!
1 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2011
Wind Farms kill Whales. And Eagles. And Hawks. Evil.

not rated yet Mar 20, 2011

Are the blade speeds sufficient to slice large sea creatures into pieces?

What, like the Loch Ness monster? I can hear the protesters now...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.