A local firm has been awarded a contract to make blades for a bank of tidal turbines aimed at providing power for 300 homes.
Shetland Composites secured the six month deal from Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation, which is developing five 100kW tidal turbines known as the Shetland Tidal Array in Bluemull Sound.
The turbines, which sit more than 100ft below the waves, will be developed in two phases with commissioning of the first three devices by the end of 2015.
The device has a rotating turbine, which is spun by the power of the tide. This drives a generator that produces electricity, which is then transmitted to the shore via a subsea cable.
Earlier this year, Nova Innovation deployed the world’s first community owned tidal turbine in Shetland.
Managing director of Shetland Composites, Fred Gibson, welcomed the news.
“This is a big step for the company. Up until now most of our work in the marine renewable sector has been in the development of prototype devices. Now finally these projects are scaling up and becoming commercially viable.”
Shetland Composites was awarded £69,774 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise towards the extension to its workshop premises in Lerwick.
Scottish Enterprise and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) are supporting Nova Innovation with £1.9 million of grant and loan funding for the tidal array project.
Mr Gibson added: “The funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been hugely important in helping the company realise its expansion plans. The extension will increase capacity which means we can take on more work and recruit two additional employees.”
Chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s development committee, Alastair Cooper, added his support to the news.
“Shetland Islands Council has supported the growth of Shetland Composites over the years and I am delighted to now see a Shetland business involved at the forefront of the tidal energy industry in Scotland.
“Fred Gibson and his team have a successful business and have worked hard on many high quality projects to get the company to a stage where it can now secure contracts for significant work like this.”
Simon Forrest, managing director of Nova Innovation, said: “We are delighted to award our blades manufacturing contract to Shetland Composites. It represents a significant milestone for the world’s first tidal array and builds on years of expert co-operation between our two companies.”
Katrina Wiseman, of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, added: “Shetland Composites has the experience and ambition to further develop and grow outwith Shetland, particularly in the energy and aquaculture markets.
“We are delighted to support Shetland Composites with their expansion which will further strengthen their national and international capabilities, contributing to the growth of the marine energy sector in Shetland.”