Scotrenewables Tidal Power has announced its tidal turbine off the coast of Orkney has produced more power over the last year than the entire Scottish marine energy sector did in the twelve years prior to its installation.
The SR2000 turbine was launched in 2016 and generated 3GWhs of electricity in its first year undergoing testing at the European Marine Energy Centre. This is sufficient to supply the annual power demands of 830 UK households, and at times provided energy for more than a quarter of the area’s demands.
The figure also represented more power than Scotland’s entire wind and tidal sector ever produced before the turbine commenced operations.
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.”
Scott added that he believes the easy accessibility of the turbine was a driving factor in the high level of electricity produced as the firm was able to conduct routine maintenance with ease. Operating costs were also kept to a minimum as the company used low-cost vessels such as rigid-inflatable boats.
The renewable firm also announced its plans to begin construction of a 2MW commercial production unit later this year, also due to be installed in Orkney for testing.
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Scott said that the turbine proved the firm has a breakthrough technology, which it will now focus on building on, saying: “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.”
Scotrenewables will build the unit with assistance from the EU’s Horizon 2020 scheme, set up to offer support to research projects in the science sector.
Senior policy manager at trade body Scottish Renewables, Hannah Smith, 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.”
Scott added that Scotrenewables had no choice but to seek opportunities abroad due to the lack of UK market support for its technology.
An Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult report released in May this year said the tidal steam industry has the potential to generate a net cumulative benefit to the UK of £1.4bn, and create 4,000 additional job opportunities by 2030.