Wave Power Potential on Scottish Coast

Following a recent batch of interesting and topical renewable energy articles on the Catalyst Commercial website, we thought that the recent study into harnessing the wave power from around the […]

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By Geoff Curran

Following a recent batch of interesting and topical renewable energy articles on the Catalyst Commercial website, we thought that the recent study into harnessing the wave power from around the UK was a perfect fit.

A recent study conducted by the Crown Estate (who owns the British foreshore and seabed) has reported that utilising wave energy around the Scottish coast could yield around 18 gigawatts (GW) of power, whilst England and Wales could also offer up 8.7GW if tidal energy technology were to be harnessed effectively.

The findings, handled by the Crown Estate Energy & Infrastructure Portfolio, report that tens of gigawatts could go into the UK’s energy supply by efficient use of  wave, tidal stream and tidal range projects at sites around Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For example, tidal range farms, which utilise the changing height of water in tidal locations have the potential to create 12.5 GW of power and tidal stream projects (which harness water flowing back to the sea) could see a further 11 GW put into the National Grid from Scotland alone.

Tidal Projects

Rob Hastings, director of the Crown Estate Energy & Infrastructure Portfolio, said: “This report reflects our strategic interest in supporting development of wave and tidal projects around the UK.

“We hope it is a useful reference for both commercial energy consumers advancing development plans and government bodies implementing industry support measures.

“While the science of wave and tidal resource assessment is still emerging, and future work will clarify the resources that are practically available, it is clear that wave and tidal energy could contribute substantially to the UK’s electricity needs.”

Scotland already has a small number of wave power facilities in the testing phase; partnerships between Pelamis Systems, E.ON and Scottish Power around the Orkney islands are amongst the first of their kind in the world, and are already setting benchmarks in putting offshore power into onshore grids.

Northern Ireland

The report from the Crown Estates was revealed on the same day that BORD Gais and OpenHydro announced they have won the rights to build a tidal energy farm off the coast of Northern Ireland.

The 100-megawatt facility will be developed exclusively by the partnership, and is expected to be operational by the end of the decade – timing that will please environmental officials in Northern Ireland, who have pledged to raise their use of renewable energy from 14% to 40% by 2020.

By the Numbers

If the coasts of the UK are capable of producing up to 26.7 GW of additional power – how far does that go to powering the UK on clean energy?
Well, 25GW is the equivalent of

  • Powering 6.4 million homes
  • Generating the equivalent power of 5.5 Nuclear Power Plants
  • Or the equivalent of 22 coal-fired plants
  • Half the United States’ wind-power capacity