Scotland plans new tidal power plant

The Scottish government is at last moving in the right direction in offshore renewables with a 10 unit tidal array in the Sound of Islay with a 10MW output, writes Mike Bamforth. The news follows announcements that wind arrays at Wigtown Bay, Solway Firth, and Kintyre will not go ahead, due to objections from a wide range of groups, not least mariners. The unpopularity of wind energy installations on land and at sea is growing and although offshore installations are acceptable in some locations, others pose a threat to safe sea and air navigation. Not to mention, of course, the scenic degradation in areas where tourism, on both land and sea, is a vital economic activity. The Islay Array will take advantage of very strong tides and, if successful, can be expanded manyfold to use the almost infinite energy in the Sound, and of course other at locations such as the Pentland Firth. The units will have a clearance of at least 20m below the surface, will have no effect on surface navigation, and their installation and maintenance will bring work to the small commercial marine sector. The benefits of tidal energy include virtually continuous power output from each location, known maximum thrust which simplifies engineering, zero visual and navigational interference and minimal seabed disturbance compared with wind turbine tower foundations.

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