By Promote ShetlandFebruary 16th 2022

A pioneering new tidal energy development which could meet a third of household electricity demand in Shetland has been confirmed, adding to the islands' ambitious clean energy plans.

Shetland has been at the forefront of tidal energy developments for several years, ever since Nova Innovation developed the world’s first tidal array in the islands in 2016.

Six years on, Nova is pressing ahead with new plans to develop their largest tidal energy array yet – a 15MW development in Yell Sound between the islands of Yell and Bigga.

Nova’s initial Shetland project was created in Bluemull Sound between the islands of Yell and Unst – transforming the raw power of the North Atlantic into clean energy to power homes and businesses in Shetland.

A further development came in March 2021 when an electric vehicle charging point was installed at Cullivoe Harbour in Yell, powered by Nova’s turbines. It is thought to be first charging point powered solely by tidal energy.

The firm has now been granted a licence to develop its largest tidal array yet, in Shetland waters.

Chief executive Simon Forrest said the project would help Shetland’s transition to green energy, while creating engineering and supply chain jobs in the islands.

He said: “Having been at the centre of the oil and gas industry for 50 years, Shetland is now at the forefront of the green energy revolution, and we are excited to play our part in decarbonising the Shetland Islands.

“Building on Shetland’s success with the world’s first offshore tidal array in Bluemull Sound, we are delighted to be working with local partners to deliver another world-leading project.”

Shetland firms already work alongside Nova with the skilled workforce manufacturing blades and steel structures for Nova, as well as providing vessels and support services locally. The turbines themselves will be manufactured in Nova’s Edinburgh base.

One of the benefits of tidal energy is its predictability and Nova hopes it Shetland projects will demonstrate that the technology can be used to generate substantial, scalable levels of clean, predictable energy for coastal populations around the world.

This agreement ... marks another important milestone in commercialising tidal energy in Scotland, putting Shetland at the heart of this exciting technology ...

Michael Matheson

The latest development in Shetland has been hailed by the Scottish government with Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy, Michael Matheson, saying: “This agreement between Nova Innovation and Crown Estate Scotland marks another important milestone in commercialising tidal energy in Scotland, putting Shetland at the heart of this exciting technology and its capability to deliver secure and reliable clean energy to support our climate targets.”

Nova’s development is just one of those in and around Shetland that will contribute to decarbonisation efforts.

Onshore and offshore wind farms are already under development and the collaborative ORION Clean Energy project has an ambition to position Shetland as the world-leading clean energy islands.

Discover more about Shetland's huge clean energy potential.