Scotland set to lose £200m investment in Caithness tidal energy power station to France

Tim Cornelius
Tim Cornelius

An anticipated £200 million investment to install more than 50 sea-bed turbines at Scotland’s leading tidal power project off Caithness is at risk.

Atlantis Resources, the developer of the MeyGen scheme in the Pentland Firth say they may switch their focus to France and elsewhere if, as they expect, their proposed expansion loses out to offshore wind projects due to be announced today in the UK energy subsidy auction. 

According to a ‘Financial Times’ report, the Edinburgh-based developer Atlantis Resources said its plans are threatened by the UK government’s decision in November last year to force tidal schemes to compete directly with larger and technologically more mature offshore wind projects. 

Tim Cornelius, Chief Executive, Atlantis Resources, said that without that decision, he would have expected to be announcing that the company would go ahead with the £200m expansion involving installation of 51 turbines able to generate a total of 76MW of electricity. 

Cornelius said that he planned to appeal to the UK government to negotiate a bespoke subsidy deal for MeyGen or to commit to changing the rules for the next “contract for difference” auction. 

Otherwise, Atlantis will shift its tidal stream focus from the UK to more supportive countries, he said. 

“We are being actively wooed and will be now developing in countries like France. You could have all of this wonderful success and then ultimately have to move to the continent in order to develop the next stages.” 

The UK government said it had decided not to grant tidal stream schemes special treatment in order to “deliver the best value for money” for electricity consumers.  A spokesman for the Dept for Business and Energy (BEIS) said: “Wave and tidal stream technologies can participate in the latest auction but we don’t ring-fence budget for them at the expense of other, potentially less expensive technologies.”

11 Sept 2017

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