It seems that Scotland, with its windy coasts and seaside cliffs, is the Saudi Arabia of… tidal power. ScottishPower Renewables wants to turn that power into clean electricity. According to its director, Keith Anderson, Scotland has 25% of Europe’s tidal resources and 10% of its wave potential. By building at least 40 (and possibly an additional 20) underwater turbines in various locations off the Scottish coast, ScottishPower Renewables hopes to generate 60 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 40,000 homes. It is thought that, if fully tapped, Scotland's tidal resources could contribute to one third of its energy demand.
The tidal farms will be consist of Norwegian-made turbines called “Lànstrøm devices”. These look like underwater turbines (see picture above), and have been extensively tested in Norway. The 20 meter blades will reach no higher than ten meters below the surface; not that anyone will be allowed to travel through the waters above, of course. And the blades move slow enough so as not to endanger the local marine wildlife.
The prognosis is quite good. ScottishPower Renewables says that these farms could be operational by 2011. One of the benefits of tidal power over, say, wind power is that the former is extremely predictable whereas the latter has been oft criticized for its unpredictable nature. However, let’s not forget that tidal power projects sometimes do not work as planned. Take, for example, Verdant Power, the company that tried to put turbines in New York City’s East River. Their turbines broke down, though they are giving it another go.
In other international turbine news, Israeli company S.D.E. Energy has signed a contract to build an undisclosed number of one megawatt wave power stations for China. Check out the rest of that story here.
Image via New Energy Focus