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'Exciting new steps' for Caithness tidal energy project


By Gordon Calder

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CAITHNESS councillors were given an insight into "the exciting new steps" for the pioneering MeyGen tidal energy project in the Pentland Firth.

They were among a delegation from Highland Council which heard about the world leading development during a visit to the Nigg Energy Park in Easter Ross on Thursday.

The councillors from Caithness, Sutherland and other parts of the Highlands were told about the plans by Simec Atlantis Energy – the company behind the scheme – to upgrade its MeyGen project in the Inner Sound between Stroma and the Caithness mainland.

At present, it produces six megawatts of power but that will rise to 86MW in the next phase of the operation which includes plans to supply power to a data centre in what is expected to be a global first for marine energy.

Councillors were told about the plans to upgrade the MeyGen project.
Councillors were told about the plans to upgrade the MeyGen project.

When the MeyGen project is completed, it is expected to generate 398 megawatts of electricity, which would power 175,000 homes.

The delegation heard about the AR1500 turbine – part of the demonstration array – and its upgrade so it can generate power through the company's new subsea connection hub which will link multiple turbines to one export cable. That should help reduce costs.

The turbine, new subsea hub and collector cable system were installed successfully on August 16.

A Simec Atlantis spokesman said: "The complete system is functioning as intended subsea, with commissioning largely complete and generating to grid."

During their visit, the councillors also saw a turbine and equipment to be installed as a demonstrator project in the straits of Naru Island in Japan.

"This is an industry first and sees the export of Scottish technology and expertise to help Japan on its decarbonisation journey," said the spokesman.

He added: "We were delighted to welcome so many local councillors to learn about the exciting next steps for the pioneering MeyGen project and see first-hand our pioneering team unlocking clean, dependable renewable power for countries around the world. This visit highlighted the huge support for tidal power and the desire to see our world leading MeyGen project reach its full potential and bring further jobs and investment to the Highlands, and beyond."

Simec Atlantis played a key part in assisting China to develop its tidal energy industry by helping to design the massive 500-kilowatt turbine which has been installed off the country's east coast. It is based on the Atlantis AR1500 turbine in operation in the firth.


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