The proposed Pentland Firth tidal power plant will be the biggest tidal turbine array in Europe. The project, proposed by MeyGen, a subsidiary of Atlantis Resources, will be located in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, between mainland Scotland and Orkney. The offshore construction works of the project are expected to start by 2014 and full scale production is expected to start by 2020.
MeyGen secured consent to build the first phase of the tidal power project from the Scottish government in September 2013. Atlantis Resources, however, fully acquired MeyGen in November 2013 from GDF SUEZ and Morgan Stanley.
The European Commission granted €7.7m to facilitate the design, construction and installation of the tidal turbines. Royal HaskoningDHV was one of the consortium partners that helped secure the funding.
Development of the Scottish tidal power plant
The Pentland Firth tidal power plant is planned to be developed in two phases. A demonstration phase is also planned to be executed before commencing the first phase. The demonstration phase will consist of six turbines for studying the environmental impact. Atlantis AK-1000 and TGL Rolls-Royce 500kW turbines will be installed in the demonstration phase. MeyGen will offer 10MW of capacity to TGL Rolls-Royce in the demonstration phase.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the first phase was completed by Xodus under a contract awarded by MeyGen.
Details of the Scottish tidal energy project
The first phase of the project will be an 86MW turbine installation targeted to be completed by late 2015 or early 2016. The second phase, which will increase the capacity to 400MW, will require separate approval by the government.
Each turbine, rated at 1MW, will have its own export shore to shore. The buried cables will be brought to shore through horizontal directional drilled (HDD) bores dug in the bedrock and connected to the power conversion centre (PCC). The marine power generated will be exported onshore for transmission to the National Grid to be distributed to around 42,000 homes in Scotland.
The PCC will include a control building, three power conversion unit buildings (PCUBs) - 45m-long, 30m-wide and 13m-high, each having power conversion equipment, switchgear and transformers.
"The PCC will include a control building, three power conversion unit buildings (PCUBs) - 45m-long, 30m-wide and 13m-high, each having power conversion equipment, switchgear and transformers."
Grid network proposed for the tidal power plant
The Pentland Firth tidal power plant will be connected to 15MW local distribution grid network managed by Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD).
The project will also be connected with high voltage transmission network managed by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHETL).
"The project will also be connected with high voltage transmission network managed by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHETL)."
Location benefits of Pentland Firth tidal power plant
Pentland Firth has significant marine power as its tidal currents are considered to be the fastest in British Isles. Researchers from Edinburgh and Oxford Universities estimated that turbines in the Inner Sound stretch of water could generate 1.9GW of clean and renewable energy for Scotland. The research, commissioned and funded by Energy Technologies Institute's Performance Assessment of Wave and Tidal Array Systems project (PerAWAT), also underscored the ways to develop and regulate the marine resource effectively.
A 25-year old operational lease agreement signed with UK Crown Estate in October 2010 gives MeyGen exclusive rights for development works at Inner Sound. The company has also taken care to minimise the impact of the power plant on sea life and shipping trade.
The turbines will be located across the stretch of the channel, in an area with 3.3km2 of high currents between Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave Power, in order to tap the full potential.