A research study carried out by engineers from Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford has estimated the Pentland Firth could generate up to 1.9GW of renewable energy, which is enough to power around half of Scotland.

Researchers have completed the study of identifying the potential of tidal power generation in the Pentland Firth, between mainland Scotland and Orkney.

According to researchers, although the firth is said to have huge potential for tidal energy, power generation from such source is challenging due to the harsh environment.

"Researchers have estimated that up to 1.9GW of tidal energy is a more realistic target, although the site has potential to capture up to 4.2GW."

Researchers have estimated that up to 1.9GW of tidal energy is a more realistic target, though the site has potential to capture up to 4.2GW, because tidal turbines are not 100% efficient.

However, earlier estimates have shown that the firth could produce between 1GW and 18GW of tidal power, but the new study has narrowed down those estimates.

Commissioned and funded under the Energy Technologies Institute’s Performance Assessment of Wave and Tidal Array Systems project (PerAWAT), the in-depth assessment research has also underscored the ways to develop and regulate the tidal resource effectively.

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Turbines are required to be located across the entire width of the channel to tap the firth’s full potential and several individual development sites have been identified by the UK Crown Estate to minimise the impact on sea life and shipping.

University of Edinburgh School of Engineering Prof Alistair Borthwick said, "This is a more accurate approach than was used in the early days of tidal stream power assessment, and should be useful in calculating how much power might realistically be recoverable from the Pentland Firth."

In 2010, The Crown Estate had awarded development rights to several companies for eleven wave and tidal stream energy projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters, with a total potential capacity of 1.6GW.