© ScottishPower Renewables
The news on Scotland’s energy supply and future supply seems like a trail of really good news stories recently. For example, we had days, in August 2016 and January 2017 when the existing wind power system generated around 150% of our needs. The new Total gas field west of Shetland could heat every house in Scotland. There’s evidence that oil prices are at least stabilised and that companies and hedge funds are starting to bet big on a near future recovery. We’ve got a new floating wind turbine platform being piloted off Dounreay. Now, here’s another promising prospect to add to the sector – tidal energy turbines. I know, there’s one already working in Shetland but this new one with be much bigger with 270 as opposed to 5 turbines. There is a real prospect of Scotland’s energy sector becoming so productive we won’t know what to do with it. Oh, sell it to rUK and the rest of Europe, that’s it.
Do we have enough space for coastline tidal energy turbines I wonder? Well, Scotland has 11 777 km and most of it with quite lively tides. That should be enough. Just out of interest, England has 5 496km. Room for a few there too.
Here’s what Atlantis Resources had to say on 24th February:
‘First AR1500 tidal energy turbine with new technology installed to provide clean, sustainable, power for up to 175,000 homes in Scotland. The 1.5 megawatt AR1500 turbine is fitted with two innovative subsystems, the Yaw Drive System (YDS) and the Variable Pitch System (VPS), which allow the turbine to rotate autonomously around its base, so it always faces into the tidal flow. The pitch angle of the turbine blades also adjusts to optimize the power generation in a given tidal stream. The MeyGen project is currently the largest planned tidal energy project in the world. The site, in the Pentland Firth, just 2 kilometers from Scotland’s northeast tip, covers some of the fastest flowing waters in the United Kingdom. Atlantis has a goal to deploy nearly 270 turbines to generate about 400 MW of energy, enough to power 175,000 homes.’
I like the sound of a Yaw Drive System. According to the Guardian back in August 2016, Shetland already had: ‘the world’s first fully operational array of tidal power turbines in the Bluemull Sound between the islands of Unst and Yell in the north of Shetland, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic. It switched on the second of five 100kW turbines due to be installed in the sound this month, sending electricity on a commercial basis into Shetland’s local grid.’
As with my recent report on floating windfarms, I thought I’d find out what the advantages of tidal energy are. Here’s what TheNextGalaxy has to say:
- A Very Predictable Energy Source: Ever since the beginning of time itself, the oceans have had tides. Massive amounts of water move in extremely predictable patterns. This makes it very easy to harness the energy that these tides can generate, because we can predict their movements as far as years ahead.
- An Inexhaustible Source of Energy: There will be no shortage of tides anytime soon. They are controlled by the gravitational pull between the earth, sun, and moon. This means that as long as the earth is being orbited by the moon, the tides will continue to be there producing energy.
- Very Low Costs To Operate: Once the initial constructions costs are done, there are very few additional costs to keep the tidal energy plant up and running. Little maintenance is required, and minimal personnel as well.
- Effective Even At Low Speeds: Since water is much denser than air, the amount of movement needed to generate power is very low. It has been proven that tidal energy can still be harnessed even if the water is only moving at 3 feet per second.
- Can Last Forever: Okay, maybe not literally forever, but a very long time! Tidal energy plants are very simple, and made of durable and simple materials that can withstand the time very well.
- Completely Green: There are no carbon emissions from tidal energy plants, making it an energy source that does not negatively affect the global environment.
Does that put this form of energy production in first place?