A tidal turbine off Orkney has generated more power in the past year than the entire Scottish marine energy sector managed in the 12 years prior to its launch.
Scotrenewables Tidal Power said its SR2000 device, launched in 2016, had clocked up three gigawatt hours (GWhs) of electricity in its first year of testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec).
It has survived harsh winter storms to supply the equivalent annual electricity demand of around 830 UK households.
At times, it has covered more than a quarter of Orkney’s electricity demand.
Scotrenewables chief executive Andrew Scott said: “The SR2000’s phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry. Despite being an R&D project, and it being our first full scale turbine, its first year of testing has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewable technologies.
“The ability to easily access the SR2000 for routine maintenance has been a significant factor in our ability to generate electricity at such levels over the past 12 months, including over winter.
“In addition, accessing the SR2000 using ‘RIBs’ and other similar types of low-cost vessel means that our operating costs and outage times are kept to a minimum.”
With support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 scheme, Scotrenewables is planning to start building a 2MW commercial production unit later in the year which will also go to Orkney for testing before the company targets sales of the turbine.
Mr Scott added: “The SR2000 has completed the job of demonstrating that we have a breakthrough technology and we will now be shifting all our focus and resources towards building on that success with a product which we are confident can enable a new industry created around a predictable renewable energy source.”
Commenting on UK government policy, Mr Scott said: “We are dismayed that there is a total lack of market support here in the UK for our technology, and we have no option but to focus our business on overseas opportunities.”
In May 2018, a report from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult said that the tidal stream industry could generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK of £1.4 billion, including considerable exports, and support 4,000 jobs by 2030.
Hannah Smith, senior policy manager at trade body Scottish Renewables, said: “This milestone for the tidal energy industry truly demonstrates the untapped potential of this emerging sector.
“Scotland’s remarkable marine energy resource has placed us front and centre in developing this industry with global potential.
“Scotrenewables’ technology has generated more power in its first year than Scotland’s entire wave and tidal sector produced before it. This remarkable achievement paves the way for marine energy to become a mainstream part of Scotland’s energy mix while cutting carbon, and delivering jobs and investment to our remote communities.
“To keep driving progress it’s critical that both Scottish and UK governments recognise the potential of these technologies and work with industry to fully commercialise these innovations.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The UK is a world leader in renewables and we are supporting our renewable energy sector to continue to thrive, which is why this Government has allocated over £90m of grant funding to wave and tidal stream technologies since 2010.
“We absolutely recognise the potential role of marine technologies in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK, but they will need to demonstrate how they can compete with other forms of generation.”