This 2017 image shows one of the MeyGen project’s tidal turbines. The MeyGen field has a total of four turbines.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The nascent tidal energy sector appears to have taken another step forward, with an Edinburgh-based firm saying on Monday that its project has achieved a world first by generating 50 gigawatt hours of electricity.
“During the early hours of the morning…our tidal current system off the coast of the Pentland Firth became the first tidal current system in the world to generate 50 GWh of electricity,” Graham Reid, CEO UAE renewable resourceshe said in a statement.
Reid described the report as “a significant milestone in the delivery of tidal current power at scale”.
“Total global production from all other tidal facilities and locations is less than 50% of this amount,” he added.
SAE Renewables’ MeyGen field is located in waters north of mainland Scotland and consists of four 1.5 megawatt turbines and has a total capacity of 6 MW at full operation. Three turbines are currently in operation.
“The MeyGen site has been running since 2017, we’ve overcome many challenges with reliability being an issue in the early days, but we’ve learned a huge amount along the way,” said Reid.
Scotland has a long association with North Sea oil and gas development, but in recent years has become a hub for companies and projects focused on tidal energy and marine energy in general.
These businesses include Nova Innovation, which has developed the 600 kilowatt Shetland Tidal Array, and Orbital Marine Power, which is working on what it says is “the most powerful tidal turbine in the world.”
North of the Scottish mainland, the Orkney archipelago is home to the European Marine Energy Centre, where wave and tidal energy developers can test and evaluate their technologies in the open sea.
Relatively small footprint
Although there is excitement about the potential of marine energy, the footprint of tidal current projects remains much smaller than that of other renewables.
However, there has been some progress in recent years. In data published in March 2022, trade association Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 MW of tidal current capacity was installed in Europe in 2021, up from just 260 kW in 2020. Globally, 3.12 MW of tidal current capacity was installed .
But by comparison, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2021, according to industry body WindEurope.