Plans for a wave farm off Shetland using Pelamis wave machines are still on track despite the announcement this week that the machines are to be deployed for three larger wave farms off Orkney and the north of Scotland.
Edinburgh-based Pelamis is to supply its sea snake power generators for a 50 megaWatt wave project by Scottish Power Renewables off the west of Orkney, another 50MW farm in the same area for E.ON UK and for Pelamis’ own project, another 50MW wave farm off Armadale in Sutherland. About 195 machines are expected to be required when the farms become operational over the next five to 10 years.
The three projects were among 10 granted leases for the Orkney and Pentland Firth area this week by the Crown Estate in what was hailed as the world’s first round of seabed leasing for wave and tidal power projects, aimed at perfecting commercial-scale marine renewables.
The projects signed off by First Minister Alex Salmond on Tuesday have the capacity to generate 1.2 gigaWatts of power which, it is claimed, could power up to 700,000 homes from an investment of up to £4 billion.
Crown Estate chief executive Roger Bright said the projects could produce four times the amount of electricity generated by the Dounreay nuclear power station in its heyday.
Five of the six wave farms are off the west side of Orkney as are three of the four tidal power farms, clearly showing how Shetland’s neighbour is racing ahead as a world centre for marine renewables.
But Pelamis business development director Max Carcas said this week’s announcement, which will require great expansion of the company’s production, would not affect the 20MW wave farm proposed for Shetland three months ago by Swedish power company Vattenfall in a joint venture with Pelamis. The project would see up to 26 of the 180 metre-long Pelamis machines going in the sea in a small area between Burra and Fitful Head as a first phase towards a much larger wave farm.
Mr Carcas said there was no distraction from its Shetland project. “We’re still very much committed to what we’re doing. We are progressing it and working closely with Vattenfall.”
The two companies have been having meetings in Shetland this week with the council and National Grid.
The project, called Aegir Wave Power, is currently with Shetland Islands Council for consideration for a works licence. Following objections from Scottish Natural Heritage and the Shetland Fishermen’s Association the developer has to prepare a detailed environmental impact assessment, which is likely to delay a ruling by councillors until next year.
Aegir hopes to have the wave farm in operation by 2014 but it is entirely dependent on an interconnector power cable being laid between Shetland and the Scottish mainland for the Viking Energy windfarm.
Of the 10 wave and tidal farms announced this week all but the Armadale wave farm depend on upgrades to the electricity transmission grid in the North of Scotland and/or a subsea cable from Orkney.