“In the same way Denmark is widely credited with pioneering the offshore wind industry – and reaping the benefits – Britain has the opportunity to own tidal power from a manufacturing, IP, supply chain and know-how perspective. We cannot allow this opportunity to be wasted.”
That was the crystal-clear challenge – and warning – to the Scottish renewable sector and the Holyrood and Westminster governments by Tim Cornelius, Chief Executive of tidal-energy colossus Atlantis Resources last night.
Speaking at a renewable energy event in Glasgow, he said: “In the same way Denmark is being credited for birthing the offshore wind market and creating national champions such as Vestas, Scotland is creating the tidal power industry and positioning itself at the epicentre of this industry. If successful, Scotland will be able to export tidal technology, people and know how, thereby helping to future proof the Scottish economy and diversify its energy sector offering.
“Tidal stream power makes sense for Scotland, and for Britain. This is our chance to position Britain as the global leader in the race and truly own the industry. The prize is within reach and together, we can make it happen
“The case for investment is clear. Scotland has multiple unique attributes that make it the ideal place to develop tidal power projects. The fierce tides give it world class tidal power resource. It has good access to the grid, strong local infrastructure, such as Nigg and Scrabster ports, and an existing experienced supply chain.
“At the same time, we have access to an unparalleled local workforce, trained in the North Sea in subsea technology and offshore construction for the past 50 years.
“And the political support provided by both Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been unwavering.
“Britain is currently in a strong position. Parliamentarians from Westminster to Edinburgh continue to support tidal stream power.
“But in Scotland in particular, the Scottish Government and its economic development agencies have relentlessly championed the industry. Any success we enjoy, and indeed the growth of the sector within the UK and globally is attributable to them.
“Like us at Atlantis, they believe in delivering environmentally benign, indigenous, clean, predictable power at scale. As a result we have good public policy, a capable and engaged supply chain, and in theory, a strong support mechanism.
“And in return for ongoing support, Atlantis will deliver a new generation of energy infrastructure for modern Britain, helping to secure our domestic supply of energy in the long term. Over the next five years, we intend to deliver £1 billion worth of tidal generation infrastructure in the United Kingdom.
“In Scotland alone, we aim to install 640-MW of tidal power capacity by 2022. This will enable Atlantis to deliver clean and predictable supplies of energy, at scale, to power homes and business throughout the UK. Our strategic investment partnerships with infrastructure fund Equitix and construction services company DEME Concessions will underpin more than £500 million of capex investment and expenditure in the next two to three years as we deliver on Phase 1B, Phase 1C and the Sound of Islay projects in Scotland.
“At a time when the UK steelmaking, shipbuilding and oil & gas industries are under severe pressure, our MeyGen project in the Pentland Firth is already delivering significant economic benefit to the UK supply chain.
“Our estimates show that 43% of all MeyGen Phase 1A content was sourced from the UK supply chain. 90% of the total steel requirement was sourced from Redcar.
“Foundation fabrication is underway in Nigg Energy Park in Ross-Shire. Cables from JDR and other key components were manufactured in the UK and numerous local Scottish contractors are currently completing scope.
“Phase 1B of the MeyGen project is currently expected to deliver an unprecedented 60% local supply chain content. “
The tidal power industry can re-purpose jobs lost from the oil & gas sector, make use of fabrication yards across the UK that have been hardest hit by the hydrocarbon downturn and create high value jobs in regions that need them most, said Cornelius.
Unveiling the first public photo of the new MeyGen tidal array turbine, he added: “The next 90MW of installed capacity in the immediate Atlantis pipeline will deliver more than £450m of investment creating an estimated 5,300, high quality full-time equivalent job years in the UK.
“Importantly, tidal stream can become part of the grid solution in the UK as it is entirely predictable.”
“Today’s tidal turbines are a triumph of engineering; they are able to withstand harsh underwater environments and operate at high efficiencies. Once we have proved the reliability of these systems, we will see a flood of investment into this sector.
“Importantly, the design and manufacture of tidal turbines has benefited from the extensive R&D already undertaken by the wind industry in drive train, power export and production line technology, which will save the industry significant time and money in its quest to rapidly reduce LCOE.
“Simultaneously, the tidal industry is building on our rich offshore heritage in Scotland by using the skills, knowledge and equipment from the fossil fuel industry and repurposing it for the new low carbon era.
“The technology and supply chain developed by the oil and gas industry in Scotland over the past 50 years is world-renowned and can be applied to the construction and maintenance of a tidal turbine arrays.
“The North Sea oil and gas industry has already developed the subsea construction equipment we need, designed the vessels we use and trained the people we recruit who are applying their experience in the construction and maintenance of offshore assets such as well heads, umbilical’s, risers and Christmas trees to the installation of cabling for turbines, foundations for fixation as the safe and efficient installation and monitoring of the turbines themselves. “