Are the Pentland Firth waters the ‘Saudi Arabia of marine power?’


These are the words of Alex Salmond. An analogy of this sort has already been made in an Energy Voice headline and reported on here at:

‘Scotland ‘Saudi of wind’ or ‘Gagging on Wind Power’

A new report from Energy Voice today uses figures from Associate Professor Thomas Adcock of Oxford University to illustrate the enormous power available to Scotland in only one, admittedly the most powerful one, tidal channel. You can see a fuller and impressive account of the wave power potential around Scotland’s more than 16 000 miles of mostly turbulent coastline in this:

Here are Addison’s figures on the Pentland Firth:

  • Tidal surge speeds of more than 16ft per second! Imagine that if you can.
  • Potentially 1.9 gigawatts-hours (GWh) – Torness and Sizewell B do at best around 1.2 gigawatts. The other nuclear plants do far less. A gigawatt is a billion watts or a million electric fires.
  • Around 16.5 terrawatt-hours (TWh). One terawatt hour is equal to a sustained power of approximately 114 megawatts for a period of one year or, from one source, enough to meet around half of Scotland’s power demand.

Add the last figure to the 14.9 TWh already being produced by renewables-based energy sources and Scotland could hit its 100% target by 2020 and not 2030 as planned.

Hinckley Point C is expected to produce 3.2 gigawatt-hours for the south of England but at what cost financially and ecologically? The latter cost could be, of course, unmeasurable but the plant alone is now estimated to cost £19.6 billion to build and the electricity generated looks like costing at £92.50 per MWh, twice that of the latest wind power estimates of £57.50 per MWh and falling as bigger turbines come on stream. For more on the latter see:

Scottish renewable energy now much cheaper than nuclear from Hinkley Point C

See this on the environmental risks of Hinckley Point, from a Tory blog!

‘England couldn’t cope after an accident at Hinckley Point’ at:


12 thoughts on “Are the Pentland Firth waters the ‘Saudi Arabia of marine power?’

  1. gavin October 24, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Decide the optimum size of turbine. Lay a girder grid with uprights on the bed of the tidal channel (as big as is required—can be increased with time). Fix the turbines into sized frames and slot (by ships crane) into uprights. Use same sized blanking plates inserted into unused upright slots( to direct and amplify the force of the current.
    There you have it. Simple engineering for mass manufacturing and maximising return, both of investment and natures bounty.
    The Scottish government should establish a company to exploit this for Scotland’s benefit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alasdair Macdonald October 24, 2017 / 8:11 pm

      And the SG ought to promote a fabrication company and a metal production company.

      Liked by 2 people

    • William Henderson October 24, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      Now we’re talking! I can think of some really good spots like the Raasay Sound and the channel between Luing and the mainland for starters.

      Zero fuel cost and total predictability of supply. Why is it taking so long?

      Also, why is no-one seriously developing Thorium-based nuclear generation? All the power and none of the long term waste problems – and it can’t be used to make bombs. Oh, dear. Have I just answered my own question.

      Liked by 2 people

      • macgilleleabhar October 24, 2017 / 9:00 pm

        Yes I agree with Raasay Sound.
        I remember reading around the time it was opened that one of the senior civil engineers who built the new road into Kyle said that a barrage fitted with turbines and lock gates to allow vessels to pass at slack water would have been much better than a bridge. But then unionist government thinking is more into taking than creating, as with the tolls.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alasdair Macdonald October 25, 2017 / 9:08 am

        Is the area around Skye and Raasay not used for nuclear submarines? I can remember once when I was at a funeral in Sleat that a submarine surfaced in the sound as it was having some difficulties (I think it was on the news at the time). Speaking to local residents, I was told that these vessels plied the area regularly. So, given the willie waving involved in nuclear weapons, the production of cheap electricity for local people is of no significance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • William Henderson October 25, 2017 / 8:26 am

        It’s much, much less dangerous than the uranium based systems. The by-products are nothing like as long lived – so long as the engineers don’t faff about trying ingenious ways of making plutonium.

        Liked by 1 person

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