The government has given permission for Meygen Ltd to place tidal turbines at Pentland Firth in the Scottish highlands. The project, which will produce energy from some of the most powerful tides in the world, will be the largest tidal turbine energy project in Europe and initially produce around 86MW electricity, enough to meet 40% of the highlands’ energy needs.
The project (which will be completed by 2015) will consist of 6 tidal turbines located in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, on the north coast of Caithness. This area is near where the vast Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea and the water is forced through just an 8 mile gap, creating extremely powerful currents.
The tides are seen as a much better method of generating electricity than other renewable sources, such as wind energy and solar power, due to its greater predictability. Not only that, but sea water is some 832 times denser than air, meaning a 5 knot (about 2.5 m/s) current has more kinetic energy than a 220 mph gust of wind. The only problem with this type of project is the potential environmental impact and making sure no wildlife is affected by the development, something that is promised will not happen in this area.
The project has been branded as phase 1 with, if successful, expansion into phase 2 set to be in operation by 2020. The site has the potential to produce nearly 400MW electricity if it is maximised to its potential.
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