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MeyGen electricity production to increase from six to 86 megawatts by 2025/26, say Simec Atlantis Energy

By Gordon Calder

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THE next stage of the MeyGen tidal project in the Pentland Firth is expected to be completed by 2025/26, according to the company behind the development.

Simec Atlantis Energy is planning to scale up the pioneering scheme and increase its electricity generation from six to 86 megawatts over the next few years but that will require major investment – estimated to be hundreds of millions of pounds.

The company is hoping to get some help from the UK Government under its Contract for Difference (CfD) initiative which would guarantee a fixed price for the electricity produced from the Caithness site. A decision is due in the first half of 2022. If successful in its bid, it would be a huge boost for the project.

It would take between 12 and 18 months to bring that phase to financial close and around three years to build the turbines with the electricity generation from the additional turbines starting in 2025/26.

Sean Parsons, the company's director of external relations, said: "At the moment, the tidal demonstration array is producing six megawatts of power and is the largest in the world but the next phase will take that up to 86 megawatts."

Asked about the financial cost involved, he replied: "It will be a sizeable investment but we are not in a position at this stage to put a figure on it." However, it is understood it will be hundreds of millions of pounds.

Mr Parsons also said the development would create employment opportunities during the construction, operation and maintenance phases.

"We are developing the turbines and will go and export them around the world and, hopefully, open up markets in Asia, north America and Europe.

"This not just about developing the MeyGen site but making the turbines and exporting them. That is happening now on a small scale but when we ramp it up jobs and everything else will follow," he added. The turbines a re built at the Nigg Energy Park in easter Ross.

The 3.5 kilometre site between the island of Stroma and the Caithness coast was granted a lease by the Crown Estate in 2010 to develop the tidal energy project. It covers some of the fastest flowing waters in the UK.

The first phase of the MeyGen project involved the deployment of four 1.5 megawatt turbines to demonstrate they are "commercially viable and technically feasible." The turbines feed into the onshore power conversion unit building at the Ness of Quoys and so far have generated over 37 gigawatts of energy. The site can produce up to 398 megawatts of electricity.

In the company's latest newsletter, Graham Reid, chief executive of Simec Atlantis Energy, said: "Having had a chance to reflect after six months with the company I am so proud of the team and all they have achieved. It’s great to look back at the story of MeyGen, the milestones and achievements, and it reminds us all how far we have come. My focus is the delivery of our projects and I am pleased with the progress we are making."

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