The European Commission (EC) has given the go ahead for the EU’s flagship tidal energy project, Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal (EnFAIT), to progress into its next stages of delivery.

The approval follows the completion of ‘go/no go’ gateway review by three independent technical experts.

Led by Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation in collaboration with eight European partner organisations, the €20m project is being built at Nova’s existing operational tidal power station in Bluemull Sound off the Shetland Islands in Scotland.

"Over the next four years, the EnFAIT project will see an expansion to the Bluemull Sound array to six turbines."

Nova Innovation CEO Simon Forrest said: “This decision from the EU is a huge vote of confidence, not just in the EnFAIT project, but in the future of the European tidal energy industry.

“Working with our partners, we’ve made significant progress in year 1 in putting in place the project’s operational and technical foundations, and we are extremely excited to be moving into the next stages, in which we’ll focus on scaling up and optimising the array configuration.

“I’d like to thank our consortium partners and the European Commission for their continued support for this truly ground-breaking project that represents a major step change in the development of the European tidal energy sector.”

The tidal energy project has completed the first full year of design development and operations phase.

Works carried out during the project’s first year include re-instrumenting the existing three turbines, extensive tidal resource monitoring activities, obtaining necessary permissions for the planned expansion of the array to six turbines, and developing detailed designs for the new turbines and their subsea connections.

Over the next four years, the EnFAIT project will see an expansion to the Bluemull Sound array to six turbines and the layout of the turbines will be adjusted to enable array interactions.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.