MeyGen, the company behind the project, has agreed a 25-year lease with the Crown Estate for an area of 1.4 square miles of fast flowing water in the north east of Scotland in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth off the north coast of Caithness. Its AR1000 turbine is claimed to be the world’s most powerful single-rotor tidal device. The project will begin with a 9MW demonstration project of up to six turbines, with construction expected to take place on a phased basis until 2020.
When fully operational, the 86MW array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes. That is the equivalent of 40% of homes in the Highlands, the Scottish government said. MeyGen hopes a second phase would eventually see up to 400 submerged turbines at the site, generating some 398MW.
It will be the first commercial deployment of tidal turbines in Scottish waters. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said, “This is a major step forward for Scotland's marine renewable energy industry. We must tackle climate change. We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through better and more efficient uses of energy. Marine energy - a home-grown technology with huge potential - is part of the solution."
Scottish-registered company MeyGen is a joint venture between investment bank Morgan Stanley, independent power generator International Power and tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources Corporation. Scotland has been described as a Saudi Arabia of renewable energy potential. The Carbon Trust has estimated that wave and tidal resources could provide 20% of the UK's electricity if fully developed.