Britain issues leases for wave, tide power

Oct. 14, 2011 at 5:31 AM
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EDINBURGH, Scotland, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The British government said this week it has issued leases for new wave and tidal energy projects off the coasts and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

One of them was issued to Pelamis Wave Power Ltd., of Edinburgh, which Wednesday announced plans to develop a wave farm large enough to power an average of 7,000 homes off the western coast of the Isle of Lewis, near the Isle of Bernera in Scotland.

The company said construction of the Bernera Wave Farm is targeted for 2015.

Other leases issued by Britain's Crown Estate included areas in the Mull of Kintyre, the Moray Firth, Shetland and west of Islay in Scotland, Skerries in Wales and Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland, the BBC reported.

"These new projects around the north and west of Scotland bring the number of planned developments in Scotland to 25, including 1.6 gigawatts in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters strategic area," said Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.

"Our announcement is a further indication of how U.K. companies are taking strides forward toward commercial deployment of wave and tidal energy, particularly in Scotland," added Rob Hastings, director of the marine estate for the Crown Estate. "In the last six months we have continued to see strong interest in wave and tidal leases."

Proposals for the eight sites run the gamut from small demonstration projects to much more ambitious efforts.

In Scotland, AWS Ocean Energy was awarded a lease in the Moray Firth; DP Marine Energy has a proposed tidal stream park in west Islay; Nautricity secured a Mull of Kintyre lease; Nova Innovation has staked out the Bluemull Sound in Shetland; and Oceanflow Energy will be working in Sanda Sound, off Kintyre, The Scotsman reported.

Pelamis Wave Power's 10-megawatt Bernera project, meanwhile, would become "the Western Isles' first commercial wave farm," the company said.

That part of the Scottish coast is rich potential wave energy, company officials said, citing a study by the Western Isles Development Trust claiming the waters around the Outer Hebrides could have as much as 20 percent of Europe's total wave resources.

Pelamis said the wave farm will be between 0.5 miles and 6 miles from shore and will occupy less than 1 square mile when completed. The next step, it said, is to conduct "site investigations and consultations with local sea users and stakeholders."

The announcement came as planned updates to the island's transmission grid were also unveiled. The company said it has struck pre-commercial development deals with utility customers E.ON and ScottishPower Renewables.

Oceanflow Development plans to use its Sanda Sound lease for long term testing of Evopod, a type of floating, tethered tidal stream technology, the newspaper said.

Scottish marine officials are assessing the technology as they consider issuing a license for the concept, in which devices are set up in tidal streams such as the Pentland Firth.

The makers claim each Evopod is capable of powering 1,000 homes.

Scottish environmentalists said while they welcome the development of alternative energy sources, they will be watching the rollout of new wave and tidal power devices carefully.

The conservation group RSPB Scotland said their coming means important for marine wildlife must be quickly identified so they can be protected from possible impacts, The Scotsman reported.

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