Tidal turbine. Copyright - novainnovation

Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing has revealed that the world’s first community-owned tidal power turbine has begun exporting electricity to the local grid, while also announcing millions of pounds in investment for renewable projects, including wave and tidal power.

The new tidal turbine project, developed by Leith-based tidal energy company Nova Innovation in partnership with North Yell Development Council, will power up to 30 homes, a locally owned ice plant and Cullivoe Harbour Industrial Estate on North Yell, Shetland.

The turbine sits on the seabed at a depth of over 100ft and consists of a propeller that is spun by the power of the tide as it flows past. The rotating propeller drives a generator that produces electricity, which is transmitted onshore via a 1km subsea cable.

The project has been funded by the Scottish Government¹s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), Shetland Islands Council and North Yell Development Council.

Funding for wave and tidal projects

The announcement was made at the All-Energy Conference, where Ewing also announced that Scottish Enterprise will invest £3.5 million in Scotland’s growing renewable energy sector. Part of this investment ­ £700,000 ­ was secured by Nova Innovation to support the first phase of the Shetland Tidal Array. Scottish Enterprise is backing the project with a £1.2 million R&D grant that will lever in an additional £1.85 million of private sector investment.

Three other projects are also being supported through the enterprise agency’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF). Inverness company AWS Ocean Energy has received a loan of £250k to support further development and testing of its AWS-III, a wave energy device which offers the prospect of wave energy on a farm scale, while Islay Energy Community Benefit Society will receive a £735k loan to install a community owned 330Kw turbine on the island, with the potential to power the equivalent of 300 homes.

"Scotland has tremendous green energy potential and vast natural resources, about a quarter of Europe’s wind and tidal energy and 10% of its wave power."

Fintry Development Trust, a body dedicated to making the village in Stirlingshire a zero-carbon, zero-waste community, is also being supported with a £615k loan. It will help refinance a commercial agreement that gives the trust an income stream from the nearby Earlsburn Wind Farm. This income will be invested in local renewable projects.

"This latest round of Scottish Enterprise funding underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to Scotland¹s growing renewables sector," said Ewing. "Scotland is a world leader in deploying renewables technology. We have tremendous green energy potential and vast natural resources, about a quarter of Europe’s wind and tidal energy and 10% of its wave power. Clean, green energy is creating opportunities for communities across Scotland and delivering jobs and investment."

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Photo: The world’s first community-owned tidal power turbine. Copyright – novainnovation