Within the larger movement of green power, the fledgling tidal-energy industry has yet to make its proverbial big splash. With one project across the pond, all of that may soon change.
In May, the Edinburgh, Scotland-based company Aquamarine Power announced a major milestone at its Lewis wave-farm project on the country’s northwest coast. The Scottish Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism granted the project full consent.
The government action effectively gives the green light to the project, making it what the company boasts as the world’s largest fully permitted ocean energy site.
The farm will be installed along the northwest coast of the Isle of Lewis in an area the company describes as one of the best wave-energy locations in Europe. It will see the deployment of between 40 and 50 of Aquamarine’s Oyster devices. The company describes the Oyster simply as a wave-powered pump, which pushes high-pressure water to drive an onshore hydroelectric turbine.
When fully developed, the farm will have the capacity to generate up to 40 megawatts of electricity. With those kinds of numbers, the farm will be a boon to the area in terms of excess generating capacity. It will be able to power nearly 30,000 homes, more than double the number of homes in the area.
The company plans to begin the farm’s development within the next few years, once the necessary grid infrastructure has been put in place to carry the power to the mainland and distribute it to the grid. A separate project to install a grid interconnector by U.K. energy giant SSE is reportedly not expected until 2017.