The world’s largest tidal-powered energy farm could be built in British waters. Three sites are under investigation by Scottish Power – two off Scotland and one off Northern Ireland – for up to 60 underwater turbines generating 60MW of power for 40,000 ho

ScottishPower, the energy company behind the plans, said that the technology, which will replicate a Norwegian project at Hammerfest, could make Scotland the global leader in the field.

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The Crown Office has opened parts of the seabed for leasing to developers. The tide turbines, right, are expected to be weighed to the floor of the sea in the Pentland Firth, between the Scottish mainland and Orkney, in the Sound of Islay, and off the coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The structures stand 30m (100ft) tall on three legs and can work as deep as 100m below sea level with the ability to turn to harness tide movements. The 20m blades would turn at least 10m below the surface to avoid shipping, developers said, while the zones would be banned to trawlers.

ScottishPower said that tests in Norway had proved that the turbine blades moved slowly enough for marine life to avoid them. The SNP administration has set a target to meet 50 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020.

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