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Companies hail first power from tidal turbine

Image courtesy of Nova Innovation.

A TIDAL turbine in Bluemull Sound has delivered its first power to the grid, the companies involved in the £3.75 million development have announced.

The first of three 100kW Nova M100 turbines involved in the first phase of the project has delivered power following “a successful winter of operations and testing”.

The Shetland Tidal Array project is a joint enterprise between Scottish firm Nova Innovation and Belgian company ELSA.

In all, the array could see five turbines being submerged in the fast-flowing sound between Yell and Unst with the aim of generating 0.5MW of energy for the isles’ power grid.

Nova said that, with the help of Scottish Enterprise, it had been able to deliver a project with “over 80 per cent Scottish supply chain content, and over 25 per cent of the spend in Shetland alone”.

In the autumn it emerged that the project had run into some difficulties. Previously dubbed “the world’s first community-owned tidal turbine”, the North Yell Development Company (NYDC) – on whose behalf a trial 30kW turbine was built and installed – turned its back on the project after a series of apparent failures.

Community leaders said the company had refused to divulge how much energy the turbine produced, while some businesses employed by the firm complained of being poorly treated and underpaid.

Nova Innovation managing director Simon Forrest described delivering power to the grid in Shetland for the first time as “the culmination of a tremendous amount of work from our team in Scotland and Belgium”.

“I would especially like to thank Scottish Enterprise and ELSA for their support and advice which has enabled us to build such a strong, pan-European project rooted in Scotland,” he said.

“Tidal energy has the potential to provide nearly eight per cent of European electricity demand. This milestone is an important step towards achieving that goal.”

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing offered his congratulations to Nova and said it was “a result of a lot of hard work and support from all involved”.

ELSA managing director Olivier Bontems said it had been “a moment of pride to see the Belgian flag under the sea on an operational tidal turbine” and the project had been a “great experience” cementing the relationship between the Scottish and Belgian companies.