Shetland Firm Will Make Tidal Turbine Blades

by Alastair Hamilton -

A Shetland company will manufacture blades for a bank of tidal turbines that will power 300 homes.

The Scottish Government's Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, has announced that Shetland Composites secured the six month contract from Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation, a firm that proposes five 100kW tidal turbines known as the Shetland Tidal Array. The turbines, which sit more than a hundred feet below the waves, will be developed in two phases. Commissioning of the first three devices will take place by the end of 2015.

The device is identical in principle to a wind turbine, the blades being driven by the power of the tide. They drive a generator and the electricity is then transmitted to the shore via a subsea cable.

Mr Swinney described the contract as “great news” for Shetland Composites and the local economy. “The seas around Scotland have the potential to provide us with a sustainable, renewable energy source. We will do all we can to help companies such as Nova innovation to access these resources.”

Shetland Composites was awarded £69,774 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise towards the extension to its workshop premises in Lerwick.

Fred Gibson, from Shetland Composites, said that the contract was a big step for the company. “Up until now, most of our work in the marine renewable sector has been in the development of prototype devices. Now, finally, these projects are scaling up and becoming commercially viable. The funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been hugely important in helping the company realise its expansion plans. The extension will increase capacity which means we can take on more work and recruit two additional employees.”

Katrina Wiseman, Highlands and Islands Enterprise also welcomed the tender award said that they were delighted to support Shetland Composites with their expansion, which would “further strengthen their national and international capabilities, contributing to the growth of the marine energy sector in Shetland.”

Councillor Alastair Cooper, Chair of Development, Shetland Islands Council said that the Council had supported the growth of Shetland Composites over the years. “I am delighted to see a Shetland business involved at the forefront of the tidal energy industry in Scotland. Fred Gibson and his team have a successful business and have worked hard on many high quality projects to get the company to a stage where it can now secure contracts for significant work like this.”

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