The UK is looking forward to a jump forward in its harnessing of the tide for renewable and clean energy production, thanks to a new milestone in the MeyGen tidal array project.
This ambitious build in Scotland's Pentland Firth is being supported by a grant from the UK's DECC of £10 million. Once operational, the test site is expected to allow the technology for wave and tidal energy to advance rapidly, in addition to producing green energy for 175,000 homes in the country once it is fully running.
Around £40 million of total funding has been secured from a range of investors that include the Scottish Executive, the Crown Estate and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Marine energy is still a relatively new area, and tidal power is only in its infancy in terms of development. The MeyGen project is assessed as being high-risk but with highly attractive benefits as a new clean energy resource with almost infinite reserves if properly harnessed.
Tidal power is also highly predictable, unlike wind and solar. The MeyGen project will help scientists to understand more about how tidal streams behave underneath the waves, potentially positioning the UK as a leader in the field.
The location is a challenging one because of high waves and powerful currents, but it delivers an excellent testing site that could be further grown to develop commercial-scale tidal projects. Four underwater turbines will be added with 1.5MW of capacity each.
Construction is in full swing, and the onshore substations and cabling are now in place. Turbine foundations are now being built and expected to be in place this summer. With estimates suggesting that 10pc of the world's total power needs could be met with marine energy, all eyes will be on the MeyGen project.