Marine Current Turbines Ltd, the British developer of SeaGen the world's first commercial-scale offshore tidal energy turbine, is on course to install one of Scotland's first tidal energy farms after securing an Agreement for Lease from The Crown Estate for a four turbine tidal farm in Kyle Rhea, a strait of water between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland.
The project, the first tidal farm planned for Kyle Rhea, is likely to have a maximum power of 8MW and have the capacity to generate electricity for up to 8,000 homes in the Highlands & Islands by harnessing the power of the fast tidal currents that pass through Kyle Rhea. Marine Current Turbines (MCT) is aiming to deploy the Kyle Rhea tidal farm by 2014.
MCT estimates that the cost of their Kyle Rhea scheme will be £40million which will be provided by a combination of private sector finance and potentially UK Government support via the Low Carbon Innovation Fund or another government funding stream that focuses on the development of marine energy in the UK.
The securing of the Agreement for Lease agreement from The Crown Estate follows MCT's recent passing of the UK Government's operating performance criteria for the UK's emerging tidal and wave energy technologies. MCT's SeaGen tidal turbine, which has been operating in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough since 2008, is the first-ever tidal or wave energy device to have passed this milestone, set by the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change.
MCT expects to submit a planning application to Marine Scotland, part of the Scottish Government, in early 2012 once the project's baseline surveys and impact assessments have been completed.
For the past 12 months, MCT with the support of the environmental consultancy Royal Haskoning (based in Edinburgh) has undertaken a series of environmental and technical studies and consulted a range of local and national organisations including the Highland Council, Marine Scotland, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the Northern Lighthouse Board, the RSPB, the Glenelg and Arnisdale Development Trust and the RNLI based at Kyle of Lochalsh.
Martin Wright, CEO of Marine Current Turbines said: "Securing The Crown Estate's approval is a vital part of the process to deliver Scotland's first tidal farm and set the UK on the path towards having a significant marine energy industry within the next decade.
"Tidal energy can deliver to the UK new jobs, predictable low carbon generation and greater energy security. The UK and Scottish Governments recognise the opportunity that tidal and wave energy offers and we hope that they will give greater incentives over the next 12 months to the market in order to make it happen: specifically we believe that 5 ROCS, rather than the present 3 in Scotland for tidal, is crucial to attract the investment that is required."
Johanna Yates, Scottish Renewables Offshore Policy Manager said: "Today's announcement shows Scotland is entering the next phase of its development with our wave and tidal scaling up from single prototypes to large scale developments. This project in Kyle Rhea illustrates the growth of the marine sector, and it is these kinds of plans in Scottish waters that will not only maintain but enhance our global lead in this technology."