Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing today marked major milestones in Caithness on Phase 1 construction of the world’s largest tidal energy development.
The MeyGen project in the Pentland Firth was one of the first tidal projects in the world to secure the necessary planning consent, lease agreement, grid connection and power purchase agreement in order to begin onshore and offshore construction.
The MeyGen project is the world’s largest planned tidal development at 398 megawatts of total installed capacity when fully constructed.
The array will consist of 269 submerged tidal turbines, enough to power 175,000 homes. In Phase 1 of the project, four submerged turbines generating 6 MW will be installed in the Inner Pentland Firth just north of Caithness, with first power generation due in 2016.
Horizontal drilling of bore holes from the foreshore into the inner sound and down to the seabed, with successful subsea exits on all four bore holes, has now been completed. Each hole is more than 500 yards in length and will house power cables which will connect the subsea turbines to the onshore power conversion centre.
Works on the onshore facilities have also taken a step forward with construction on the Power Conversion Centre – which will feed power generated by the subsea turbines into the electricity grid – starting this week.
Meanwhile, grid connection cable burial works along the 12 mile route from Hastigrow have also started. The Minister said:
“This is an exciting, first-of-a-kind project and these milestones mark a significant step forward in the onshore construction works which has created vital employment for the area.
“The eyes of the global marine industry are on this Scots energy project. I am heartened to see the involvement of home-grown companies including John Gunn & Sons Ltd and Leask Marine, and I very much hope there will be further opportunities for the Scottish supply chain. “
The power conversion centre is designed to withstand and protect the critical electrical equipment against the extreme elements of the Pentland Firth, whilst its unique aesthetic will enable the building to blend into the local environment and offer minimal visual and noise impact on the surrounding countryside.
Operationally, the centre has been designed with bespoke water, waste, and cooling solutions, in order to minimise the environmental impact.