Marine Current Turbines Ltd has secured approval for a lease from The Crown Estate to deploy its award-winning SeaGen tidal current technology off Brough Ness, on the southern most tip of the Orkney Islands (South Ronaldsay) and north east of John O’Groats. The company plans to have its first phase of SeaGen tidal turbines deployed during 2017 with the whole scheme operational by 2020.
Marine Current Turbines (MCT) is planning to install 66 SeaGen tidal turbines in three phases over a four year period in a site area of 4.3 square kilometres. The Brough Ness tidal array will have a total generating capacity of 99MW – enough power for nearly 100,000 homes.
SeaGen is the world-leading prototype tidal energy turbine designed and deployed by MCT. It is the largest grid-connected marine renewable energy system in the world and which last month exceeded 1000 hours of commercial operation in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. It is the first tidal current energy system in the world to have achieved this milestone. The 1.2MW tidal current turbine, which was deployed in April 2008, has achieved a capacity factor of 66% and so far delivered more than 800MWh of electricity into the National Grid.
Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said: “The Pentland Firth and Orkney waters are strategically the most important marine energy areas in Western Europe so we are delighted to have secured approval for a lease by The Crown Estate. I believe that MCT is in a very strong position to capitalise on this significant and challenging opportunity. MCT already has the valuable experience of deploying and operating SeaGen in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough and within the next two to three years we expect to have deployed our first tidal farm in UK waters.”
Subject to financing and final agreements with The Crown Estate, Marine Current Turbines is aiming to secure planning and environment consents for Brough Ness by 2015, to start construction in 2016 and the first phase of deployment in 2017. The timing of construction and deployment will be dependent on the local grid infrastructure being strengthened.
Roger Bright CB, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said: "I am delighted to announce that Marine Current Turbines has been awarded the Brough Ness site to develop 99MW of tidal energy power in Pentland Firth And Orkney Waters, the world’s first commercial wave and tidal leasing round.
"The 1.2GW of installed capacity proposed by the wave and tidal energy developers for 2020, shows the world that marine energy can produce meaningful amounts of electricity and offers a real alternative to conventional power production. The long term prospects for this growing industry are exceptionally bright, with vast amounts of untapped energy in the seas all around the UK. It will create new businesses and jobs as well as attracting inward investment.”
As with its SeaGen project in Northern Ireland, where local companies played a prominent part in delivering the scheme, Marine Current Turbines will look to companies in the Orkneys and Caithness & Sutherland to support its Brough Ness tidal project.
Martin Wright added: “We recognise that the local supply chain could provide us with valuable expertise, not least in marine and port services, and in engineering and fabrication. We are very keen to work with local companies and the local agencies so that they can share in this exiting opportunity.”
This latest news comes a day after Lord Hunt, the UK’s Energy Minister visited the SeaGen project in Northern Ireland, and follows Siemens Energy’s investment in Marine Current Turbines that was announced last month (February 25th 2010) and new investment in the company from the Carbon Trust, EDF Energy and other shareholders in December 2009 and February 2010. These two funding rounds totalled £8.5million.
In February 2010, Marine Current Turbines also received £2.7m from the UK Government’s Marine Renewables Proving Fund and administered by the Carbon Trust. This funding stream is being used to support the improvement of SeaGen’s operation and its future installation.
Notes to Editors:
1. Marine Current Turbines Ltd (www.marineturbines.com) is based in Bristol, England. The company was established in 2000 and its principal corporate shareholders include BankInvest, Carbon Trust Investments, EDF Energy, ESB International, Guernsey Electricity, High Tide and Siemens Energy.
2. In September 2009, MCT was ranked the world’s top tidal energy company in The Guardian/Clean Tech Global 100 Survey and in June 2009 won Renewable Energy Developer of the Year in the UK Renewable Energy Association Annual Awards.
3. MCT’s 1.2MW SeaGen was deployed in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough in April 2008; it has the capacity to generate power for the equivalent of about 1500 homes. It works in principle much like an “underwater windmill” with the rotors driven by the power of the tidal currents rather than the wind. The SeaGen turbine is subject to a rigorous monitoring programme imposed under its licensing conditions to ensure it does not threaten the marine life of Strangford Lough where it is located.
4. SeaGen is accredited by OFGEM as a UK power station and so is a recipient of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs).
5. Since February 2008, MCT has partnered RWE npower renewables on plans to develop a 10MW tidal farm in waters off Anglesey, north Wales and is working with Minas Bay Pulp & Paper to deploy a single SeaGen system in Canada’s Bay of Fundy.
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