Highlands & Islands

Nicola Sturgeon unveils tidal farm's first turbine

Tidal turbine Image copyright Atlantis Resources
Image caption Atlantis Resources hopes to eventually install more than 200 turbines off the Caithness coast

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has formally unveiled a tidal turbine that is to be deployed in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth.

The device is the first of four to be completed at the Nigg Energy Park in the Highlands for Atlantis Resources's MeyGen project.

The project is said to be the world's first large-scale tidal energy farm.

The Scottish government has provided £23m of funding to help develop the tidal stream farm.

Atlantis hopes to eventually expand the project to up to 269 turbines, with completed turbines being transported north by sea from the Nigg Energy Park on the Cromarty Firth to the tidal stream farm site in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, which separates the north Caithness coast and Orkney.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon formally unveiled the completed turbine on a visit to the Highlands
Image caption The turbine at Nigg Energy Park in the Highlands

Last month, another Scottish energy project become the first in the world to deliver electricity to the national grid from a tidal array system.

Nova Innovation said its Shetland Isles project represented major progress in using tidal energy as a long-term source of predictable renewable power.

The Scottish government hopes that further growth in the industry will create jobs for people moving from the oil and gas sector.

Skilled workforce

Ahead of her visit to the Nigg yard, the first minister said MeyGen was set to invigorate the the marine renewables industry in Scotland and provide vital jobs for a skilled workforce, retaining valuable offshore expertise that would otherwise be lost overseas.

Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis Resources, said the day marked a "historic milestone" for the entire global tidal power industry.

He added: "This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the UK's future energy mix."

"This is an industry that is creating jobs and Scotland is the undisputed world leader of this high growth sector."

Jenny Hogan of industry body Scottish Renewables said tidal stream turbines were still an "incredibly young technology".

She added: "Future development is absolutely dependent on continued support from Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels, who have all played a vitally important part in the growth of the sector to date."

Image copyright Frank Bradford
Image caption Ships have been laying cables in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth for the project

The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed involved, said the MeyGen was a "milestone" renewable energy project.

Ronnie Quinn, general manager of the Crown Estate's Scotland Portfolio, said: "The Crown Estate has been working with Atlantis Resources over a number of years, providing specialist support on seabed leasing and investing nearly £10m in the project to help unlock Scotland's tidal energy potential.

"With the deployment of these turbines in a commercial array, a world first, Scotland and the UK remain at the forefront of this industry."

Conservation charity WWF Scotland said the project would help Scotland to achieve a zero carbon economy.

Fabrice Leveque, climate and energy policy officer at WWF Scotland, said: "Alongside measures to improve energy efficiency, marine renewables have the potential to play a significant role in powering our homes and businesses in the future."

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