World first for community tidal scheme

The world's first community-owned tidal power turbine in Scotland has started exporting electricity to the local grid. The Shetland Tidal Array is a joint enterprise between Nova Innovation (Scotland) and ELSA (Belgium).
The world's first community-owned tidal power turbine in Scotland has started exporting electricity to the local grid. The Shetland Tidal Array is a joint enterprise between Nova Innovation (Scotland) and ELSA (Belgium).

The world’s first community-owned tidal power turbine has successfully exported electricity its local grid.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing confirmed the renewable milestone ahead of this year’s All-Energy conference.

The tidal turbine will generate enough electricity to power up to 30 homes in North Yell, Shetland.

Mr Ewing said: “For the first time, anywhere in the world, a community owned tidal turbine is generating electricity. It will have a positive impact on the North Yell community and economy.

“Scotland is recognised as world leader in wave and tidal energy, with a quarter of Europe’s tidal stream and a tenth of its wave-energy potential.

“We must tackle climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through better and more efficient uses of energy. That is why Scotland generated a record amount of electricity from green energy sources last year.”

The turbine is fixed to the seabed more than 100ft below the surface. The strength of the tide rotates its propeller which then powers a generator. The electricity is then transmitted along a 1km subsea cable to an onshore facility.

The Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), Shetland Islands Council and North Yell Development Council (NYDC) all helped fund the project.

Simon Forrest, managing director of Nova Innovation which helped develop the project, said the milestone step should boost industry confidence in marine-powered energy.

“We are delighted to announce that the Nova 30 tidal turbine has been successfully deployed and is generating electricity to the grid,” he said.

“It marks a major achievement for the wider Scottish tidal industry with over 80% of Nova’s supply chain Scottish based.

“By working in close partnership with the North Yell community and our suppliers, we believe that this project demonstrates the growing confidence in the marine sector and strengthens Nova Innovation’s leading position in the emerging global marine energy industry.”

Shetland Islands Council councillor Robert Henderson also made the trip to Aberdeen for this year’s All-Energy conference.

He said the community power scheme would cement Shetland on the renewables map.

“This is a tremendous moment for North Yell,” he said.

“For the first time anywhere in the world, electricity is being generated from a community owned tidal turbine.

“Having used as much local expertise as possible we’re keen to see Shetland taking a leading role in marine renewables.”

The project is 100% owned by the NYDC.

In 2010, it received £167,000 of development funding from the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme.

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