Inner Sound in line for Major Tidal Energy Project

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The Crown Estate announced today that we are inviting expressions of interest for a tidal energy project in the Inner Sound.

Inner Sound lies between Caithness on the Scottish mainland and the island of Stroma. As one of the most energetic tidal areas in the Pentland Firth, the Inner Sound has potential for a significant commercial tidal energy project, and could increase the potential capacity in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters to more than 1,200 MW.

Successful bidders for the first competitive wave and tidal leasing round in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters were announced on 16 March in Wick, Kirkwall and Edinburgh. During the leasing round process, we received bids for development in the Inner Sound. The preferred bidder withdrew at a late stage in the process. Given the Inner Sound’s high potential for renewable electricity generation, and the fact that it was one of the most contested areas in the leasing round, we expect that other parties will be interested in the area. It has therefore decided to re-tender the Inner Sound. We are particularly keen to receive expressions of interest in a single commercial project of 200 MW or more installed capacity, to be constructed and operating by 2020.

Should a developer be successful in the re-tendering process and secure an agreement for lease, it would be expected to develop the site and enter the statutory consenting process. The Pentland Firth and Orkney waters enabling actions fund, which comprises developers’ option fees and match funding from The Crown Estate, would also increase. For the time being, we have no plans to invite bids and will not consider applications for any other areas of the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters.

Commenting on the announcement, Rob Hastings, Director of the Marine Estate said: “After the successful launch of ten wave and tidal projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters, with a potential capacity of 1,200 MW, we are delighted to make the Inner Sound available for further commercial bids. A tidal project in the Inner Sound could significantly increase the local generation of marine renewable energy and further advance the wave and tidal energy industry. And an increase to the enabling actions fund would help further accelerate and reduce risks in development, through environmental survey work, for example.”

Expressions of interest in the area will be invited and companies will be invited to pre-qualify, from Monday 19 April 2010, via our e-tendering system. A link to the e-tendering system will be given on this date. The deadline for expressions of interest and pre-qualification will be 17:00 BST on Friday 28 May 2010. The proposed area for development in the Inner Sound is pre-defined, and a map and co-ordinates are available on the wave and tidal page of this site.

As owners of the UK seabed out to the 12-nautical mile territorial limit and over 55 per cent of the foreshore, we will continue to work closely with our partners, Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Orkney Islands Council and the Highland Council, to maximise the benefits to the local area and the rest of Scotland from investments such as the offshore renewable energy programme.

In keeping with our core value of stewardship, we would welcome views from local stakeholders that may be affected by the development. Views should be directed to the Wave and Tidal programme team:

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A consultation on proposed areas for a further, separate leasing round in Scottish territorial waters, particularly aimed at potential Saltire Prize competitors, is currently underway. Further details are available on the further Scottish leasing round (Saltire Prize projects) page of this website.

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