Scotland rules the waves
Mar 17, 2010 - Daily Record; Glasgow (UK)
It's a green power gold rush ... and our nation is leading it.
Scotland confirmed its place at the forefront of global wave and tidal energy yesterday when officials unveiled TEN massive projects to generate power off our north coast.
The plans will make us the first country on the planet to produce wave and tidal energy on a large enough scale to make big business sense.
And if all the projects succeed, they could power 750,000 homes - and create more than 5000 jobs - in just 10 years.
First Minister Alex Salmond couldn't hide his glee
as he said: "Scotland rules the waves."
"These waters have been described as the Saudi Arabia of marine power, and today marks a major milestone in the global journey towards a low-carbon future."
The (pounds)5 billion marine power revolution will
centere on the Pentland Firth between John O'Groats
The Atlantic and North Sea meet in the eight-mile wide stretch of water, creating some of the strongest tides on the planet and producing giant waves.
The Crown Estate, which owns the seabed around the
UK, gave the go-ahead yesterday for power companies
to set up large-scale marine power projects in the
Firth and the waters around Orkney.
Officials at the normally staid public body didn't even try to hold back their excitement. Crown Estate chief executive Roger Bright said: "This is truly amazing work. No one has attempted to do anything on this scale in the world."
Scientists have been working on marine power projects for years - but on a small scale. No one has ever tried to do it commercially - until now.
Three of Britain's biggest energy firms, ScottishPower, Scottish and Southern Energy and E.ON, will bankoll most of the 10 projects.
The giants have joined forces with wave and tidal power pioneers who have been testing
And the seabed will look like a science fiction set as boffins bring in hundreds of weird and wonderful machines to create electricity from the waves and tides.
Edinburgh's Pelamis Wave Power will use their Sea Snake devices - huge floating booms harnessed to a "socket" on the seabed - to convert the force of the waves into electricity.
Pelamis boss Neels Kriek said yesterday's "momentous announcement" would go down in history around the world.
He added: "We look back to the birth of the steam engine in another age.
"But when our industry is fully developed, we will look back in the same way and trace the line back to today."
Another Edinburgh firm, Aquamarine Power, will fix banks of their Oyster generators to the seabed. The Oysters move back and forth with the waves and use pistons to generate power.
A third company, OpenHydro, will bolt huge turbines
which look like jet engines to the seabed. And the
SeaGen machine, which looks and acts like an onshore
wind turbine, will generate power as the Firth's 20-knot
tides turn its rotor blades.
Yesterday's announcement was a triumph for Salmond, who has put his neck on the line over marine power.
The SNP's opposition to nuclear energy leaves him
no option but to back green technologies to the hilt,
and he has even offered a (pounds) 10million prize
to encourage wave and tidal power pioneers.
But even if all 10 projects announced yesterday work perfectly, they will only meet a tiny fraction of Scotland's energy needs.
And there are plenty of problems to overcome before they start pumping power into the electricity grid.
Marine power technology has not proved itself on
a large scale, and the big power companies will have
to invest up to (pounds) 5billion to make the schemes
Another (pounds) 1billion of public money could
be needed to build the new harbours and power lines
And the marine power firms will have to overcome the challenge of working in some of the world's most ferocious and dangerous waters.
But the prizes on offer if marine power can be made to work are far too big to ignore.
Salmond believes Scotland could eventually use renewable energy to produce TEN TIMES the power we need. That would make us a massive exporter of electricity and secure the future of our economy as well as helping to save the planet.
Britain has also pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and green energy will have to play a major part if that target is to be met.
The marine energy scientists are confident they
are up to the task. And yesterday's move towards wave
power was welcomed on all sides.
Scots Secretary Jim Murphy said: "Scotland is naturally placed to make the most of this green revolution. We are set to see a significant expansion in the commercial development of wave and tidal energy."
Dr Richard Dixon, director of environmental pressure group WWF Scotland, added: "Wave and tidal power represent an energy and jobs bonanza for Scotland.
"Today's announcement should give investors the signal they need that Scotland is the place to be for marine energy."
RECORD VIEW: Page 8
THE schemes announced yesterday could produce 1.2
gigawatts of electricity - four times the peak output
of the now-closed nuclear power plant at Dounreay.
THE waters around Scotland hold a quarter of Europe's potential wave and tidal power.
SCOTLAND can already generate up to three gigawatts of green power from onshore wind and hyrdo plants, and a further four gigawatts of onshore wind and hydro power is planned.
PLANS are in place to generate up to 11.2 gigawatts
of power from offshore wind turbines over the next
MINISTERS say Scotland is on course to surpass its target of generating 31 per cent of its electricity from green sources by next year. The long-term target is to produce half our power from green sources by 2020.
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