Shetland firm wins blade manufacturing contract for Nova Innovation tidal turbine array


Simon Forrest, Managing Director, and Gary Connor, Technical Director, pictured with a Nova Innovation tidal turbine
Simon Forrest, Managing Director, and Gary Connor, Technical Director, pictured with a Nova Innovation tidal turbine

A Shetland company has won the contract to manufacture blades for a bank of tidal turbines that will power 300 homes on the islands.

Shetland Composites secured the six month contract from Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation which is developing five 100kW tidal turbines known as the Shetland Tidal Array.

Earlier this year, Nova Innovation – where Ian Marchant, former chief executive of Perth-based Scottish and Southern Energy is non-executive chairman – deployed the world’s first community owned tidal turbine in Shetland. The company was established in 2010.

The turbines, which sit more than 100ft below the waves, will be developed in two phases with commissioning of the first three devices by the end of 2015.

The device has a rotating turbine, which is spun by the power of the tide. This drives a generator that produces electricity, which is then transmitted to the shore via a subsea cable.

Scottish Enterprise and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) are supporting Nova Innovation with £1.9 million of grant and loan funding for the tidal array project.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney commented: “This contract is great news for Shetland Composites and the local economy. The Scottish Government and its agencies will do everything we can to ensure Scotland benefits from the significant economic opportunities the renewables industry presents.

“The seas around Scotland have the potential to provide us with a sustainable, renewable energy source. We will do all we can to help companies such as Nova innovation to access these resources.”

Simon Forrest, Managing Director, Nova Innovation, said: “We are delighted to award our blades manufacturing contract to Shetland Composites. It represents a significant milestone for the world’s first Tidal Array and builds on years of expert co-operation between our two companies.

Shetland Composites has invested £70,000 to extend its workshop premises in Lerwick and Fred Gibson from Shetland Composites, said: “This is a big step for the company. Up until now most of our work in the marine renewable sector has been in the development of prototype devices. Now finally these projects are scaling up and becoming commercial viable.

“The extension will increase capacity which means we can take on more work and recruit two additional employees.”

Councillor Alastair Cooper, Chair of Development, Shetland Islands Council, added: “Shetland Islands Council has supported the growth of Shetland Composites over the years and I am delighted to now see a Shetland business involved at the forefront of the tidal energy industry in Scotland.

“Fred Gibson and his team have a successful business and have worked hard on many high quality projects to get the company to a stage where it can now secure contracts for significant work like this.”

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