World's first shallow water tidal energy system planned for Isle of Skye waters.
– First device to be deployed in 2012
– Devices up to 10MW planned, with further development possible
Link to BBC Story here
Pulse Tidal, the Sheffield-based tidal power provider, is planning to place the world’s first shallow water tidal energy system close to the shore at Kyle Rhea, the narrow, fast-flowing straits between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Mainland.
The company has selected Kyle Rhea as its first commercial location because it possesses all the natural characteristics needed to become the world’s first shallow water tidal energy site, including a strong tide and a sheltered location.
Pulse chief executive Bob Smith says: “If tidal energy is to play a major part in the renewables sector then the technology has to deliver low-cost electricity. Pulse has developed a system that has minimal installation and maintenance costs because it works close to shore. It is also completely below water with minimal environmental impact.”
Pulse’s system operates in tidal streams which move horizontal blades up and down to drive a generator. The system sits on the sea-bed, fully submerged even in shallow water, and is invisible in operation.
The company has begun a year-long environmental study ahead of an application to Marine Scotland for a licence to start producing the first 1.2MW of renewable electricity in 2012. Once successful, this could be increased to a 9.6MW output by stringing eight devices together.
Pulse is also investigating various other UK and international sites in which to locate additional commercial arrays. However, Scotland has put in place a progressive scheme of revenue incentives to encourage renewable energy and it is set to be the first country in the world to benefit from a truly commercial tidal power array.
The Kyle Rhea straits have the potential to produce 20MW, and perhaps more, giving plenty of scope for further development if appropriate.
Shallow water location favours Pulse device
Bob Smith says: “Scotland is keen to be the world leader in renewable energy, so we are excited about working there.
“However, we are still in the early stages of our plan and we are listening carefully to the views of all concerned parties, locally and nationally. We are taking each step very carefully. We have to look at how this might impact on people’s lives, their livelihoods, tourism, wildlife and the ecology and ensure that it is economically viable.”
Pulse commercial director Howard Nimmo says: “In these shallow waters our technology can generate 1.2MW from a single device, while other technologies would generate considerably less.
“Kyle Rhea is also sheltered, making maintenance easier. The power will come ashore via a cable to an electricity sub-station and then into the national grid.
“Scottish National Heritage has been very supportive, having seen our plans for environmental monitoring and protection, and we have now begun the one year baseline EIA evaluation with a view to applying for a licence in early 2011. This study will assess in detail the environmental impact of placing our device on the seabed at Kyle Rhea. We will be studying everything from marine life to navigation and from tourism to onshore wildlife.
“We aim to demonstrate that we will not be harming the environment in any way and having done so will seek approval for a licence from Marine Scotland.
“Pulse has already opened talks with the local community, landowners, residents and authorities. We have had a warm welcome for our plans to make Scotland the home to the world’s first commercially-viable tidal array. The fact that our device will not be visible at all and will cause minimal impact on the location is very much in our favour, though we acknowledge there is still a long way to go before we are actually producing renewable power from the seabed at Kyle Rhea.”
Pulse has successfully tested its system with a trial device in the Humber and the company has received a €8 million EU grant to develop its first commercial generator.
Major planning issues to be addressed
Pulse is hoping its plan will satisfy the planning authorities at the Highland Council. The authority’s ‘West Highland and Islands Local Plan’ states that planning permission for renewable energy projects are guided by the Highland Council’s Highland Renewable Energy Strategy and Planning Guidelines (2006) which lists Kyle Rhea as a prime development area.
Pulse is encouraged by the Scottish Government’s Marine Energy Strategy, published in 2008, which outlines the role marine renewable energy will play in Scotland’s future energy supply. The environmental assessment undertaken following that report shows the potential for wave and tidal development around the west coast of Scotland, Orkney, Shetland and the Pentland Firth.
Source: Pulse Tidal