Scottish waters may provide abundant clean energy

Scottish waters may provide abundant clean energy

“It’s great to see Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters confirm their place on the marine power map with the launch of the second of the Coalition Government’s UK Marine Energy Parks.”  Rt. Hon. Greg Barker MP, Energy and Climate Change Minister

According to today’s press release from Decc, Minister Barker will welcome the launch of a new Marine Energy Park for Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters in the North of Scotland during his visit to Thurso in Caithness, where he is going to address movers and shakers from across the marine renewable energy industry.

The motion of the sea can be harnessed to convert kinetic energy to electricity. Wave and tidal power has the potential to generate 27GW of power in the UK alone by 2050 according to DECC, this is equivalent to the power generated from eight coal fired power stations. Marine power promises to help cut emissions and reduce human contribution to climate change.

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park  incorporates the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) which attracts developers from across the world and has been testing a wide range of wave and tidal energy devices already.

The park is expected to raise the international profile of the area and confirm its reputation as a world leader in marine energy. Key to this will be collaborative partnerships in the region between mainland and Orkney government figures, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and marine energy experts.

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters already play a vital part of the UK’s growing marine sector, having some of the best wave and tidal resources in the country and being a font of valuable home grown marine energy expertise. Scotland is well known for its Marine engineering history with the prolific works of Robert Stevenson from lighthouses to breakwaters, Marine energy development is an exciting new chapter in an established history.
Scotland made history with the inauguration of the world’s first commercial scale leasing round for marine energy recently. As announced by the Crown Estate (TCE) in 2010, there are 11 successful bidders for sites in Scotland’s Pentland Firth and Orkney waters. Up to 1.6 GW (600 MW from wave and 1000MW from tidal stream) proposed by the developers involved in this leasing round. If developed to full capacity, this output could meet the electricity needs of up to three quarters of a million homes!

The positive economic ripples of this development are already being felt, apparently. Scrabster Harbour in Thurso has been expanding its facilities to provide support logistics for offshore energy in the area. Under its “three ports strategy”, Orkney Islands Council is investing in new and upgraded pier and quayside facilities at Lyness, Hatston and Stromness – providing support facilities for the marine energy industry at these key strategic locations.

The energetic waters off Orkney, Jerry and I took the ferry.

The energetic waters off Orkney, Jerry and I took the ferry.

We greatly enjoyed visiting Orkney. There’s a lot of energy in the waters around the islands and a lot of creative energy onshore. It will be marvelous to use these turbulent waters for large-scale renewable power generation.

Runic writing on Orkney, by Andy Luck

Runic writing at Maes Howe, on Orkney, by Andy Luck

“After the spirits and the waters moved, the remainder came into being: the whole aeon of the creation, and their <powers>.” The Concept of Our Great Power, Nag Hammadi