Scottish tidal power station breaks world records producing enough energy to power 2,000 homes
A tidal energy project off the coast of Scotland has broken a record for the amount of electricity generated.
During August, the MeyGen power station generated 700MWh of electricity, enough to power 2,000 homes. So far in its lifetime, since its fourth turbine was installed in February, MeyGen has dispatched 2GWh of electricity to the grid, owner Atlantis Resources has revealed in its interim results.
Tidal power stations work like underwater wind turbines. Instead of wind driving the turbines, they are made to rotate by the fast-moving currents in the ocean. Because of the density of water, tidal turbines can be much smaller than wind turbines, meaning they can be placed closer together.
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“August proved to be a world record month, providing enough energy to power 2,000 Scottish homes from just two turbines,” said David Taaffe, Director of Project Delivery at MeyGen.
A final, fifth turbine is expected to be installed by the first week of October. “We are extremely excited to see the final turbine, our AR1500, be reinstalled at MeyGen in the coming weeks and seeing the project complete its transition into full operations,” said Tim Cornelius, Chief Executive of Atlantis.
Tidal power has been slow to get off the ground compared to other renewable technologies like onshore and offshore wind but a 2014 study found tidal flows could meet almost half of Scotland’s electricity demands. This research called the MeyGen site, off the Orkney islands, “almost certainly the best for tidal stream power in the world”.
Atlantis estimates tidal power could provide a fifth of Britain’s electricity needs, a figure which the government agrees with. This would mean 30 to 50GW of capacity, and would be a huge leap from current values, as tidal, wave and ocean energy provided just 0.02% of the EU’s power needs in 2015.
On 12 January 2017, Charles Hendry published the results of the independent review of tidal lagoons, arguing they should be an important part of the electricity generation mix. “It is clear tidal lagoons at scale could deliver low-carbon power in a way that is very competitive with other low-carbon sources,” he said.