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Channel Islands plan closer after tidal test

Tidal power has flowed onto the National Grid for the first time and paved the way for a major scheme to be developed in the Channel Islands next year.

After a series of trials a tidal device developed by Ireland based OpenHydro and installed on the seabed just off a remote Scottish island has been connected to the grid for the first time.

The move is seen as a important step forward for the renewables industry as some experts believe the sea could eventually provide 20 per cent of the UK’s energy needs.

Brendan Gilmore, chairman of OpenHydro, said his company was now looking to make rapid progress.

He said: “This is a hugely significant development not only for OpenHydro, but for the future of the Tidal Energy industry and security of energy supply.

'It is also a further major step in our program to deploy an array of 1MW turbines in Alderney, the Channel Islands, in 2009.”

The device is installed at the test site managed by the European Marine Energy Centre and positioned at the Fall of Warness, off the island of Eday in Orkney.

“In the UK, marine energy has the potential to deliver up to 20 per cent of our electricity need. Centres such as EMEC play a crucial role in the development of wave and tidal energy technology.”
Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Innovations for the Carbon Trust
Neil Kermode, EMEC’s managing director, said: “This is a very exciting project. Huge efforts in terms of planning and preparation have gone into ensuring the success of this project.

'OpenHydro’s vision is to deploy farms of tidal turbines under the world’s oceans and we are delighted that EMEC has been able to support the delivery of this key milestone. The oceans are a huge potential source of sustainable energy.

'If we can harvest even a small quantity of the power contained within them, we can deliver a significant share of the electricity needs of countries around the world.”

Jim Mather, Scottish Energy Minister, said: “This is the first time in Scotland that homes will be powered using the energy of the tides - a massive step forward for Scottish research and technology.

'Scotland has unrivalled potential to generate clean, green energy from our seas. Marine power lies at the heart of our ambitions to develop a vibrant renewables sector, creating jobs and boosting economic growth while tackling climate change.”

James Ives, OpenHydro's chief executive, said: “The OpenHydro turbine is one of the first tidal technologies in the world to reach the stage of permanent deployment at sea and is the accumulation of 10 years of design and development work.”

Calum Davidson, head of key sectors at HIE, said: “This provides further validation of the world-leading role that EMEC, Orkney and the Highlands and Islands is playing in this vitally important new energy sector.

'The fact that this pioneering project has reached this stage is testament to the determination and hard work of OpenHydro and its partners. Now, the dream of generating substantial amounts of energy from the sea is within our grasp.”

This could be the first of many with another tidal device – the SeaGen – developed by Marine Current Turbines set to be connected to the grid at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland later this year and other pilot projects due to be undertaken over the next two years.

Dr Mark Williamson, director of innovations for the Carbon Trust, said: “In the UK, marine energy has the potential to deliver up to 20 per cent of our electricity need. Centres such as EMEC play a crucial role in the development of wave and tidal energy technology.”

EMEC was established and funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Government, Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Enterprise, The Carbon Trust, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), and with the support of European Regional Development Funding.