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MeyGen tidal energy project continuing to operate


By Gordon Calder

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MeyGen achieved a world first last year when it recorded the longest period of uninterrupted electricity generation ever reached.
MeyGen achieved a world first last year when it recorded the longest period of uninterrupted electricity generation ever reached.

THE MeyGen tidal energy project off the north Caithness coast is continuing to operate despite the difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Simec Atlantis Energy, the company behind the pioneering initiative, outlined the impact the Covid-19 crisis is having on its various business interests, which include the MeyGen scheme in the Pentland Firth.

A spokesman for Simec said: "While the situation across our portfolio of projects requires constant monitoring and reassessment, at present we have seen minimal disruption to the tidal business with MeyGen continuing to export power reliably to the grid. In addition, it remains our expectation that we will be able to maintain our current contractual commitments to deliver equipment and services to our clients in Japan and Scotland this year."

The company also said its Green Highland Renewables (GHR) business which has 45 contracts with operating hydro schemes is continuing.

The spokesman said: "A reduced team of engineers will be maintained to enable us to provide essential services to all of our customers and this will continue unaffected throughout this period. These services can all be performed while maintaining social distancing guidelines."

But he added: "GHR has three hydro projects under construction which have been temporarily shut down in line with current government policies."

Simec has placed 27 employees, who are unable to work due to the coronavirus restrictions, on furlough through the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. "Additional employees may be placed on furlough in the coming weeks in response to the changing situation," the spokesman added.

To help the company during "a period of uncertainty," the chairman and all non-executive directors will take a 20 per cent cut in their fees and will defer payment of the remaining fees with immediate effect. Chief executive Tim Cornelius and executive team will take a 20 per cent salary deferral.

"Management is also actively implementing additional cost saving measures across the business," the spokesman added.

The MeyGen tidal array scheme achieved a world first last year when it recorded the longest period of uninterrupted electricity generation ever reached. It exported 24.7 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy – equivalent to the average annual needs of around 3800 homes – and generated £3.9 million in 2019.

By the end of last year, phase 1A of MeyGen generated total revenues of £7.1 million.

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


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