Tidal energy potential of firth revealed

A stretch of water off the north coast could provide enough energy to power about half of Scotland, engineers from the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh have found.

By K.Steiner-Dicks on Jan 29, 2014

Researchers have completed the most detailed study yet of how much tidal power could be generated by turbines placed in the Pentland Firth, between mainland Scotland and Orkney. They estimate 1.9 GW could be available.

The in-depth assessment by engineers at the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh offers insights into how to develop and regulate the tidal resource effectively.

As many in the industry are already aware, the Pentland Firth is a prime candidate to house marine power projects because of its tidal currents, which are among the fastest in the British Isles.

Engineers say that their study improves on previous estimates of the generating capacity of turbines embedded in the Firth - ranging from 1 to 18 GW- which were too simplistic or based on inappropriate models.

Researchers calculated that as much as 4.2 GWcould be captured, but because tidal turbines are not 100 per cent efficient, they say that 1.9 GWis a more realistic target.

The research was commissioned and funded as part of the Energy Technologies Institute’s Performance Assessment of Wave and Tidal Array Systems project (PerAWAT).