By RYAN TAYLOR
SHETLAND could soon be at the forefront of tidal power, if plans by a Swedish company come to fruition.
Sea Power International is planning to install its innovative EXIM tidal turbine system in the Bluemull Sound next year, once planning permission has been given for the project.
It is hoped the move will create a number of highly skilled jobs in the isles, as well as prove the company’s green credentials at a time when environmental awareness in energy provision is considered a key priority.
Managing director Inge Petterson said Shetland would play a key role in the organisation’s future.
To that end, a new company – Shetland Tidal Power – has been set up to bring forward future plans.
The company intends to build its turbine units locally, and has pledged to create jobs in research and development, manufacturing and assembly here in Shetland.
A website has been set up at www.shetlandtidalpower.com.
It is thought that Cullivoe’s ice factory in Yell is a possible candidate to be powered by the new system.
Before then the company must clear a number of hurdles – not least obtain planning permission for the turbines – but Mr Pettersson was in no doubt the move could be of real benefit to Shetland.
He was in the isles recently to meet would-be investors who may help out with the project, and described his progress as “very promising”, especially considering the potential he sees Shetland offering.
He said Shetland’s size and infrastructure made it a suitable location for the company’s plans.
“We have chosen Shetland because we are familiar with Shetland and have been there for many years,” he said.
“Also we feel we have a wealth of well educated good people up there.
“It’s one of the places I find very interesting because of the natural resources we have up there.
“Tidal power is a very interesting resource and should be used because it’s predictable and has been for many millions of years.”
He said he had been impressed by the PURE energy project in Unst, which showed how committed people in Shetland were to green energy.
The EXIM system proposed for Bluemull has already been at the receiving end of some vigorous testing, first off the Swedish coast and then in Poland in 2002.
A series of trials were run in the Bluemull Sound a year later, helping the company to gain knowledge and experience in tidal power.
Despite enthusiasm, tidal energy is regarded as being in its infancy compared with wind power.
But implementing the turbine system will be a major step forward for the new technology, especially as it will be the first time the turbines have been used commercially.
Assuming all goes as planned, a second turbine unit could be installed near Ulsta.
Sea Power first arrived in Shetland nine years ago, when it came to build a wave generator off the west side near Walls.
It later abandoned the project in favour of tidal power.