A Scotland-based project achieved a “significant milestone” by smashing the record for the most electricity ever produced via tidal power. Edinburgh-based SAE Renewables has claimed that its tidal energy array off the northern coast of Scotland achieved a world first after it generated 50 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity by harnessing the power of the sea.
Graham Reid, the CEO of the Edinburgh-based firm, described the achievement as a “significant milestone in delivering tidal stream power at scale.”
He said: “During the early hours of this morning … our tidal stream array off the coast of the Pentland Firth became the first tidal stream array in the world to generate 50GWh of electricity.
“Total global generation from all other tidal devices and sites is less than 50% of that amount.”
SAE Renewables’ MeyGen array is made up of four 1.5 megawatt turbines lying in the waters of mainland Scotland, with a total capacity of 6 MW when fully operational, with three turbines currently in operation.
It is one of a host of tidal projects dotted around the UK. Tidal energy is produced by turbines which generate electricity using the power of tidal waves.
The renewable energy source could make a vital contrition to the UK energy mix and help wean the country off expensive fossil fuels, the price which of have soared over the last year due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and supply-side constraints.
As a result, household energy bills in Britain have hit record highs. But as part of a drive to boost energy security and tackle the climate crisis, more tidal energy in the mix could put the UK on a path the energy independence, freeing it from its current vulnerability to volatile global markets.
Renuka Thakore, Lecturer and Researcher at the School of Justice at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has previously told Express.co.uk: “The UK tidal power has a considerable potential to contribute to the energy mix resilience. By design, it is the most high energy of the renewable energy sources.
“If exploited globally, tidal power could generate as much electricity as was generated in the world in 2018. The active evolution of tidal power technologies makes it a viable energy source to develop and scale up in both existing and new locations, using flexible and hybrid technologies.
“A combination of energy resources are needed to create sustainable, reliable power. However, wave energy has a valuable role to play in decarbonisation.”
But the rollout of tidal has lagged behind other renewables like offshore wind and solar due to the commercial viability of the turbines.
Now, the cost of deploying turbines in tidal streams is dropping, meaning there has been a growing interest in the energy source.
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In fact, a report published by Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult back in October revealed that the cost of generating power from tidal streams sunk by 40 percent since 2018. The Government-backed researcher also forecasts that prices could drop below that of nuclear energy a decade or so.
Experts have also noted how the energy produced by tidal waves come at predictable hours every day, making it more reliable than intermittent solar or wind.
Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, has previously explained that this is tidal power’s “big advantage”.
He said: “The big advantage of tidal energy is that its entirely predictable. If you can predict the tidal flow for six months, you can predict it forever. That’s a great advantage on wind energy for utilities, because they can predict exactly when the tidal energy will be generated.”
On the other hand, wind turbines can only generate power in windy conditions, for instance, and can even produce excess power that goes to waste when the wind is blowing strong.
However, tidal firms have claimed they can generate large amounts of electricity for 24 hours a day and provide a constant baseload source of power.
Stuart Murphy, founder of tidal range energy system TPGen24, told express.co.uk: “We got the coastal ranges, and the tidal ranges. We start using them, we start reducing our energy bills significantly, and we won’t be reliant on Russian gas or French or Norwegian electricity.”
He added that “we have the best solution in the world for renewable energy. Only tidal range provides base load, and can produce power from a single site 24/7.”
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