ocean energy

World's first community-owned tidal power turbine grid powering Scottish community

The world's first community-owned tidal power turbine in Scotland is now exporting electricity to the local grid, according to a government minister.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland's Energy Minister, said the turbine, which sits on the seabed at a depth of over 100 feet, will power up to 30 homes, a locally owned ice plant and Cullivoe Harbour Industrial Estate on North Yell, Shetland.

The turbine consists of a propeller that is spun by the power of the tide as it flows past. The rotating propeller drives a generator that produces electricity, which is transmitted onshore via a 1km subsea cable.

The project, developed by Leith-based tidal energy company Nova Innovation in partnership with North Yell Development Council, was funded by the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), Shetland Islands Council and North Yell Development Council.

“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," Ewing said while attending the Al-Energy conference in Aberdeen.

“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," he continued. “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.”

 Robert Henderson, Chairman of North Yell Development Council, called the turbine's grid connection "a tremendous moment for North Yell."

"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."

According to Simon Forrest, Managing Director of Nova Innovation, the project demonstrates the growing confidence of the marine sector and the value of working in close partnership with community to be served by a renewable energy project and one's suppliers.

 “We are delighted to announce that the Nova 30 tidal turbine has been successfully deployed and is generating electricity to the grid. It marks a major achievement for the wider Scottish tidal industry with over 80 per cent of Nova’s supply chain Scottish based," Forrest added.

The project is 100 per cent owned by the North Yell Development Council (NYDC) a company limited by guarantee and a charity.

In 2010, the project received £167,763 development funding from the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) supported by Community Energy Scotland, £16,990 from the Shetland Islands Council and £1,200 from the NYDCs own funds.

Upon learning of the turbine's grid connection, WWF Scotland’s Climate and Energy Policy Officer Gina Hanrahan said, “It’s great to see yet another first for Scottish tidal power. With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create skilled, green jobs.

“It’s important that island communities like North Yell get a slice of the action and share in the benefits of Scotland’s transition to a renewable future,” Hanrahan added.

For additional information:

Nova Innovation

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