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The Latest on the MeyGen Wave and Tidal Power Project

21 Oct 13:00 by Steve Walia

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The MeyGen project, located on Scotland's Pentland Firth, will be a world first when it is built - a commercial-scale wave and tidal facility that will provide enough power for 175,000 Scottish homes.

It is being developed by Atlantis Resources and will have a total generation capacity of 398MW. Work began on the vast project in 2008, and the current focus is on installing the initial four turbines by the end of the year - as long as weather and tidal conditions play ball. The plan is then for the development to start producing power by early next year.

If this first phase is a success, the wave and tidal energy farm may have up to 269 turbines installed - each measuring just less than fifty feet each in height with a rotor that spans just under sixty feet. This means that each blade will be nearly thirty feet in diameter.

This is noticeably smaller than conventional wind turbines, as onshore models can often exceed 200 feet in height. The newest models being used offshore at Block Island Wind Farm are even more gigantic - almost twice the length of the Statue of Liberty. However, the MeyGen project only needs smaller turbines because water is denser than air by a factor of 800.

Another key benefit of this project will be that tides are infinitely predictable, meaning that the resulting energy will be reliable, consistent and easier to plan and estimate for than solar and wind energy.

Construction has been ongoing since last summer, and the 12 miles of underwater towers that will ink the turbines to the onshore power conversion unit are now in place.

It is estimated that Scotland could hold up to a quarter of all tidal energy potential in Europe.