UK tidal energy company Marine Current Turbines has today set a target of 2013 to install Scotland’s first tidal energy farm.
The company, which designed and deployed the world’s first commercial scale offshore tidal stream energy system in Northern Ireland, is investigating the feasibility of a tidal farm in Kyle Rhea, a strait of water between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland.
The project will have the capacity to generate electricity for up to 4,000 homes in the Highlands and Islands by harnessing the power of the fast tidal currents that pass through Kyle Rhea 14 hours a day. It will also give a multi-million pound boost to the local economy as businesses can expect to participate in the tidal farm’s installation, operation and maintenance.
The development of the project is subject to securing a lease agreement from the Crown Estate, securing planning approval from the Scottish government and raising the finance for the project.
Marine Current Turbines estimates that the cost of the 5MW Kyle Rhea scheme, consisting of four SeaGen tidal units, will be £35m.
For the past nine months MCT has undertaken a series of environmental and technical studies and consulted a range of local and national organisations. The work to date has confirmed the suitability of the site and subject to further studies being carried out and further consultations, MCT aims to submit a planning application towards the end of next year.
MCT’s project manager for the Kyle Rhea project, David Ainsworth, said: “Engagement with local interests is an important part of our work and so far the response to our plans has been generally positive. Next year, we will hold a public exhibition before our planning application is finalised to give local people the opportunity to find out more about the project and the benefits that it will bring.”