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Yell sets the pace on tidal energy

BRITAIN’S first community tidal power scheme should start generating power for the Shetland island of Yell next year.

North Yell Development Company (NYDC) has raised £160,000 to invest in a prototype 30 kilowatt tidal energy device designed and built by Edinburgh-based Nova Innovations with the help of local firm Shetland Composites.

The machine will be used to run the ice making machine on Cullivoe pier for the fishing and salmon industry that use the facility in the north of the island.

NYDC secretary Andrew Nisbet said all the consents and the funding were in place for the project to go ahead early next year, saying that money was coming from Community Energy Scotland and Shetland Islands Council.

Nova had asked Fred Gibson of Lerwick-based Shetland Composites to build the blades for the turbine and were so impressed with the reception they received in the isles that they decided to test the prototype in Shetland.

Mr Nisbet said the tidal conditions in Shetland and their status as a community development group provided all the right ingredients for the project to go ahead.

Mr Gibson added: “This is a prototype and if it works as planned hopefully we will be building more.”

The news comes as the Crown Estate Commission announced that two large areas west of Shetland were being made available for lease for wave energy developments.

The commission want sites for companies wishing to compete for the Scottish government’s £10 million Saltire Prize for marine renewable developments.

An area measuring 1,117 square kilometres stretching from the west of Eshaness to Papa Stour, and a 179 square kilometre zone along the south west coast of Shetland are up for grabs.

Shetland Islands Council business development manager Douglas Irvine said the islands were regularly contacted by energy companies about using local waters for marine renewables.

“We are getting fairly regular enquiries about what Shetland has to offer because companies throughout Europe are thinking that the technology is developing and wondering where they are going to locate these projects,” Mr Irvine said.

The Orkney marine energy test centre is attracting a great deal of interest to the northern isles from all over the world, he added. “That is helping us enormously because these companies are looking beyond Orkney to the north of Scotland and Shetland.”

SIC development committee vice chairman Alastair Cooper welcomed the move to open up new areas for marine renewables off Shetland. “As long as it is done in sympathy with the fishing industry, Shetland could become an ideal hub for wave and tidal technology.”

Meanwhile NYDC hope to gain planning permission for the five turbine wind farm they have been working on for the past seven years before the end of this year.