Work in Yell on what is believed to be the first community-owned tidal generator is gathering pace.
All the component parts necessary for the long-anticipated 30 kilowatt generator – the equivalent of 10 kettles – have arrived in the isle.
It is hoped a workboat will be on site within a week to help install the huge machine in Bluemull Sound.
Members of the North Yell Development Council, the community group behind the project, are waiting for a suitable weather window to have the generator installed in the seabed.
Once up and running it will provide power for the ice plant in Cullivoe, and any surplus energy created will be sold to the main grid.
Project manager Colin Dickie said the structure would soon be in place, as long as the weather plays fair.
“All the parts are now here so we’re just waiting on everything to be bolted together,” Mr Dickie said. “We need a weather window for the work boat to come up and deploy the machine.
“We’re hopeful most of the power will go direct to the ice plant when it’s being used – but at times when the ice plant is not being used it will transfer power onto the local grid, so either way the community will earn a modest income from the sale of electricity. We are delighted that it’s here and we’re keen to get it in the sea and see how it does.”
Plans had been hatched to transport the machine by barge from the central belt. But poor weather over the winter led to a decision to break it down, allowing it to be taken in parts to Yell by lorry.
“The main turbine has been in Leith and the supporting structure has been in Renfrew,” Mr Dickie said. “The base unit was all in one piece and it was originally planned that that would be shipped by sea.
“But with the weather we’ve had it was decided we would cut the base unit into pieces and take it up by truck. That’s been done. It just needs to be bolted back together again. It made sense to do it that way.”
News of the generator emerged last May when the North Yell Development Council was offered a grid connection which could pave the way for a new locally-owned windfarm.
Since then community leaders have been rubbing their hands at the prospect of £1.3 million worth of electricity being sold annually to the National Grid through the Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) NINES smart grid project.
That is the kind of deal that could be possible once the five 900 kilowatt turbines are in place at the site between Basta Voe and Gloup.
Development council chairman Robert Henderson said talks with banks were progressing to secure the £6 million needed to connect to the National Grid by May next year.
“At the end of the day it will be down to the bank coming up with the best package. We are not looking for banks to help other as a straight-forward loan,” Mr Henderson said.
Mr Dickie said the project still looked “very positive”, despite not being quite as far on as had initially been anticipated. Construction should progress from the summer on.
“We’ve got a connection date of May 2015, so that’s either then or very shortly after then we will be selling our first electricity,” Mr Dickie added.