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Tidal Power In The Shetlands

August 29, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Patsy Lacey 




Sky News report:


A Scottish energy company’s tidal turbine system has become the first in the world to deliver electricity to the national grid.

Nova Innovation said its Shetland Isles project marks a big step forward in using tidal energy as a reliable source of renewable power.

The firm installed its first turbine in the Bluemull Sound earlier this year, with the device generating to full power across all tidal conditions.

A second turbine was installed this month to work alongside the first.

The company’s eventual goal is to have large number of turbines connected in an "array".

Simon Forrest, managing director of Nova Innovation said: "We are absolutely delighted to be the first company in the world to deploy a fully operational tidal array."

He added: "Deploying the second turbine truly sets us apart and showcases our technology.

"I would like to thank all our staff, partners and suppliers for helping to make our vision a reality."

Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, said: "Scotland is already at the forefront of capturing power from the tides and waves, and Nova’s latest news demonstrates that lead is well-deserved.

"The country is already home to some of the most advanced marine energy technologies anywhere, as well as the European Marine Energy Centre – arguably the most advanced marine energy proving site in the world.

"With companies like Nova and others all working on developing this cutting-edge technology, the sector holds huge promise for the future."


According to Nova, this is the second in a series of five 100KW turbines. They are likely to generate at about 25% of capacity, giving about 1GWh a year, or enough to power approximately 270 homes.

The renewable energy website, Renews, tells us that £3.75 million scheme has received £1.9 million of public funding from Scottish Enterprise, which seems an awful lot of money for such a small amount of power.

Even then, it is not clear how the cost of the scheme can be recovered without further subsidies. 

  1. August 29, 2016 7:26 pm

    It’s called pouring money down a drain. In this case the drain leads into the ocean, which has a massive capacity for absorbing taxpayers’ money.

  2. 00Le_Gin00 permalink
    August 29, 2016 7:35 pm

    I’ve been waiting for a Scottish related energy post…

    I came across this chap on a comments section (at the Groan of all places!) and loved this idea…but forgot about it until now. It’s massive.
    All I want to know is why it won’t/can’t work…

  3. August 29, 2016 7:59 pm

    “with the device generating to full power across all tidal conditions.” in the Sky report
    That breaks the “too wow to be true” rule, and is straight away contradicted by the Nova quote ” They are likely to generate at about 25% of capacity” 25% is not 100% !

    “1GWh a year (from all 5),” If a MWh costs £33 for coal power, then 1GWh costs £33,000, (Stick in all the taxes and extra network charges and it would sell for £100-140K retail)

    Yet construction costs cost £3.75m including £1.9m grant, If it wasn’t receive a big subsidy the payback time would be more that 100 years not including maintenance costs.

    Greenblob media like the BBC would quickly point that out …NOT !

  4. Oliver K. Manuel permalink
    August 29, 2016 8:15 pm

    After one hundred and eleven (111) years of delay, the public may finally reap the benefits of Einstein’s 1905 discovery, mass (m) is stored energy (E): E = mc^2

  5. Coeur de Lion permalink
    August 29, 2016 8:37 pm

    Come on come on – the French have been generating electricity from the Rance tidal array for forty years. Not a Scottish first, like much else

    • Sara Hall permalink
      August 29, 2016 9:09 pm

      I remember seeing it under construction (April 1966) on a school trip to Dinard. Our teachers were really excited about it all, but it meant nothing to me at the time..I was still at junior school then. They keep blathering on about tidal power around these (Channel) islands but seem to be wilfully blind or totally ignorant over the cost.

    • August 30, 2016 6:17 am

      Rance is a tidal barrage, so not the same technology.

      I thought the Strangford Lough tidal turbine was the first of this type of technology. The turbine has, I believe, been removed.

  6. August 29, 2016 8:39 pm

    00Le_Gin00 and stewgreen

    how fitting is it that the article invokes the Panama Canal?

    A Darien scheme anybody?

    I guess the Scot_Nats will go for it – they’re so financially screwed that it won’t make any practical difference to the end result 🙂

  7. August 29, 2016 9:33 pm

    Ridiculously little tidal power for a ridiculously large expenditure. And with no data on durability/reliability. Being first is sometimes a sign of economic idiocy. Today an Austrian wingsuit jumper was first ever to livestream his own wingsuit jump death on Facebook. Deserves a Darwin award. Ditto Nova Innovation in Scotland, hereby nominated for an Adam Smith invisible hand award when it fails financially.

  8. catweazle666 permalink
    August 29, 2016 10:22 pm

    Why do we keep getting told how many “homes” these things will power?

    How about how many aluminium smelters? Or how many server farms?

    • August 30, 2016 9:32 am

      Indeed. The ‘homes’ measure is specifically chosen to produce a high sounding number. But note this is based on ofgem’s typical household electricity consumption (about 4300kWh pa) so it doesn’t include energy for heating, nor that required to charge the electric cars we’re all supposed to be using in the future. If you think about it, for much of the day a home uses sod-all electricity. Maybe 200W for the fridge freezer plus 10W for miscellaneous chargers and appliances on standby. Big deal. Just hope they don’t all happen to boil a kettle at hightide or lowtide.

  9. Green Sand permalink
    August 29, 2016 11:23 pm

    Ah, the much vaunted ‘herring shredder’. One of the better incarnations of the ‘there must be a free lunch’ brigade. Large rotating kit has issues, large rotating kit in a marine environment has severe issues. Experienced mechanical engineers see it as simply avoid if at all possible!

    At least the ‘herring shredder’ designer has a ‘predictable environment’ to contend with. At sufficient depth tides and temps are remarkably consistent. His offshore wind turbine colleague, however doesn’t, and will never really know his environment. But as with both situations, brine is brine, and we are still learning.

    • roger permalink
      August 30, 2016 1:55 pm

      The SNP certainly seems to have it in for anadromous fish and in particular the salmon and sea trout, whose numbers have fallen across Scotland at a spectacular rate and to such an extent that rivers have been categorised this year from 1 to 3 with the lowest category being denied retention of fish caught and resulting in a collapse of visiting and local fishing activity.
      This latest wheeze will be well placed to intercept salmon returning to their birth rivers, many of which have already been fitted with Archemedes screw type generators set within burns that give access at times of flood to the spawning grounds, followed by return access to the main river and then back to sea.
      Many of the spawning grounds unfortunately have been wrecked hydrographically by huge plugs of concrete with massive access roads between the turbines set upon them, all of which exude an initial high alkaline surge through the spawning rivulets followed by a slow leaching over time into the naturally acidic bogs of the upland areas and thence into the burns.
      Not content with this gross vandalization, here in the Solway we have an offshore array, Robin Rigg, which has not only changed the channels of the inner Solway as can be verified by the washing away of the foundations of several of the turbines, necessitating drastic remedial work, but also emits low frequency noise, the effect of which on salmon and sea trout, waiting for floods to give access to the rivers Nith, Annan, Esk and Eden,
      has yet to be determined.
      Now I am not saying that any or all of these factors are responsible for the parlous state of the scottish Solway rivers today, but the rush over the past fifteen or so years to carpet Dumfries &Galloway with all manner of subsidy harvesting contraptions, may have been conducted with scant attention to subsequent effects, paying tick box lip service to environmental impact and a desire to initiate the flow of bill payers money at the earliest possible date.

      • daveR permalink
        August 30, 2016 5:42 pm

        To be fairer, tho’, roger, successive Scottish Gov administrations long pre-dating SNP administrations have successively wilfully chosen not to address legitimate concerns. The Thin Report is the tin lid on any idea of accountability. The works of folks at ex- Pitlochry Fish Lab (now MSS) clearly demonstrated even back from the 1980’s there was a serious farmed salmon-induced lice problem. The SG’s response to that was and has been since to ignore reality and override former local authority-based consent. It’s a Gubbernment decision folks, awright?

        We’ve (as fishers) a real problem here: projected farmed salmon production is set to double and plus by 2020 over 2010 ouput. For what? – the collapsing Chinese market? Thanks, tho’, Donald, Alex and Nicky…

  10. Coeur de Lion permalink
    August 30, 2016 8:01 am


    • Gus permalink
      August 30, 2016 3:29 pm

      I wonder how they are going to stop moss and other forms of sea life from building up on their turbine blades and decreasing the turning power of the blades? If they have some magical material that prevents this from happening then I know a lot of boat owners that would like to get their hands on it. Probably not, so good luck with dwindling power until the divers go down and do the scraping and cleaning.

      • Andrew Duffin permalink
        August 31, 2016 8:49 am

        I suspect they will be allowed to use TbT anti-foulings (now banned for leisure boating) which are the only thing available today which is really effective. The side-effects on the marine environment (which is the reason for it being banned for boaters) will of course be brushed under the carpet.

  11. 2hmp permalink
    August 30, 2016 8:08 am

    this looks like a monumentally futile project. What possible justification can be given to such a waste of resources – and all in the harshest environment – salt water. The mind boggles at how persuasive subsidies can be.

  12. August 30, 2016 9:16 am

    ‘A Scottish energy company’s tidal turbine system has become the first in the world to deliver electricity to the national grid.’

    That will be news to the company that supplied a similar system to New York.
    ‘During 2006-09, Verdant Power completed a grid-connected demonstration of its KHPS (Gen4) at the RITE Project. The demonstration included the operation of six full-scale tidal turbines, which delivered electricity to operating New York City businesses, representing the world’s first operation of a grid-connected tidal turbine array.’

  13. johnmarshall permalink
    August 30, 2016 9:55 am

    Let us see how it stands up to the first winter storm.

  14. Matthew permalink
    August 30, 2016 11:35 am

    Do these things chop up whales as they spin?

  15. Andrew Duffin permalink
    August 31, 2016 8:44 am

    There was a small article in the Daily Telegraph about this yesterday.

    Amusingly, it was headlined “Wave Power first for Scotland”.

    They just can’t get anything right, can they?

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