World first as Scottish energy tidal turbine power company supplies UK grid with electricity

Nova Innovation controls its Shetland tidal array from its Edinburgh head office
Nova Innovation controls its Shetland tidal array from its Edinburgh head office

A Scottish energy firm’s tidal turbine system has become the first in the world to deliver electricity to the national grid.

Nova Innovation said its Shetland Isles project represents major progress in using tidal energy as a long-term source of predictable renewable power.

The Edinburgh-based company – where Ian Marchant, former chief executive of SSE, is Chairman – installed its first turbine in the Bluemull Sound in March, with the device generating to full power across all tidal conditions. A second turbine was installed earlier this month to work alongside the first.

As the firm’s goal is to have a large number of turbines connected in an “array”, the use of a second one marks a major milestone.

Simon Forrest, managing director of Nova Innovation said: “We are absolutely delighted to be the first company in the world to deploy a fully operational tidal array.

“Deploying the second turbine truly sets us apart and showcases our technology. I would like to thank all our staff, partners and suppliers for helping to make our vision a reality.”

Nova Innovation has been at the forefront of tidal energy technology development and was the first company to secure financial close on a commercial tidal array. Its business strategy in developing its commercial scale devices has enabled it to sell and deliver projects quickly and more cost effectively than its competitors.

This commercially focused approach attracted the attention of Belgian renewable energy leader ELSA to partner with Nova Innovation on the Shetland Tidal Array. This pan-European partnership has enabled the delivery of a successful project that showcases the best in European co-operation.

The project has 100% EU content and has been delivered with over 80% Scottish supply chain content, demonstrating Nova’s commitment to local supply chain engagement.

Nova’s success heralds a new era for tidal energy as a long-term source of predictable renewable power – unlike other forms of renewable energy.

The UK Carbon Trust estimates a global tidal energy market of £126 billion could be developed by 2050.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “News that power has been exported to grid for the first time by a pair of tidal devices marks yet another major milestone on Scotland’s journey to becoming a fully renewable nation.

“With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create green jobs right across the country.

“How big a role tidal power will play in our future energy depends on the ambitions of our politicians today.

“The Scottish Government’s forthcoming Scottish Energy Strategy provides the perfect opportunity to set out a bold vision for how we could become Europe’s fully renewable electricity nation by 2030, ensuring that we secure the maximum economic and social benefits that will arise from a shift toward a zero-carbon economy.”

The SNP welcomed the news that energy has been exported to the UK grid for the first time by a pair of tidal power devices off the coast of Shetland – and urged the UK government to do more to support Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

Maree Todd, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said: “The export to the grid – a world first for tidal power – showcases the enormous potential of Scotland’s renewable energy sector and comes hot on the heels of positive news in both offshore and onshore wind power.”

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