Community Tidal Energy Is World First

by Alastair Hamilton -

The world's first community-owned tidal power turbine has started exporting electricity to the local grid in Shetland.

The machine is identical, in principle, to a wind turbine. However, it sits on the seabed at a depth of over 100ft and its blades are turned by the power of the tide. The electricity generated is transmitted onshore via a 1km subsea cable.

The project is located off the island of Yell, Shetland's second most northerly inhabited island, in the waters of Yell Sound, where there is a strong tidal flow. It was initiated – and partly funded – by the North Yell Development Council and developed by Leith-based tidal energy company Nova Innovation. Further investment came from the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) and Shetland Islands Council.

The turbine will power up to 30 homes, a locally owned ice plant and Cullivoe Harbour Industrial Estate in North Yell.

The scheme has been widely welcomed. Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, expected “a positive impact on the North Yell community and economy.”

Robert Henderson, a Shetland councillor and Chairman of North Yell Development Council, said:

“This is a tremendous moment for North Yell. For the first time anywhere in the world, electricity is being generated from a community owned tidal turbine. Having used as much local expertise as possible we're keen to see Shetland taking a leading role in marine renewables."

Simon Forrest, Managing Director of Nova Innovation, said he was delighted that the Nova 30 tidal turbine had been successfully deployed. “It marks a major achievement for the wider Scottish tidal industry with over 80 per cent of Nova's supply chain Scottish based.” Indeed, the turbine's blades were made by Shetland Composites in Lerwick.

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