Large-scale tidal power project launches in Scotland

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A single AR1500 turbine from Atlantis Resources will be installed as part of Phase 1A of the project(Credit: Atlantis Resources)

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The MeyGen project is a large-scale effort to deploy up to 398 MW worth of offshore tidal stream turbines, connected to the UK National Grid by 2020. The project is now officially underway, with Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, unveiling four 1.5 MW turbines, which together make up Phase 1A of the project, at an event in the Nigg Energy Park in Scotland.

The four 1.5 MW turbines are built by two companies – three by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, and a single AR1500 turbine from Atlantis Resources (pictured above) – each weighing an impressive 200 tonnes (220 tons). They're all now fully assembled, and are ready to be positioned atop their foundation structures on the quayside at the Nigg Energy Park. Once attached, each turbine will be transported to its operational site by a Neptune jack-up vessel, operated by Geoseas.

Sitting on the seabed, the turbines are similar in appearance to wind turbines, with a three-blade design. However, the blades on tidal stream turbines tend to be smaller in size, thanks to the much denser nature of sea water compared to air. The Atlantis Resources turbine being installed in Scotland features a mechanism that lets it to turn through 180 degrees, allowing it to switch direction with the tide.

This new milestone comes three months after the project successfully connected an underground, 33kV power export cable to the grid, in June 2016. The turbines are expected to deliver their first power to the UK grid later this year.

These initial turbines might only be the first part of a much larger puzzle – the completed project will see 269 turbines deployed, powering some 175,000 homes – but they represent the culmination of a lot of preparation for the companies and individuals involved.

"It gives me enormous pride to have reached this juncture after 10 years of tireless work, preparation and planning by everyone associated with this project," said Atlantis Resources CEO, Tim Cornelius. "This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the UK's future energy mix."

The project is just the latest example of how we're harnessing nature as a source of green energy. Back in May, New Atlas was on the ground in Gibraltar, where Eco Wave Power switched on the first ever grid-connected wave power plant in Europe.

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