International Power Marine Development, a subsidiary of International Power plc, has secured a grid connection and they will build a 10-Megawatt tidal farm in the Pentland Firth. The scheme is due to be operational by 2011 subject to an environmental impact assesment and planning consent from the Scottish Government.
The company confirmed its plans for the scheme and said it has opened an office in Thurso. James Minto, has been appointed to run the project, he said: “This tidal farm will complement prototype testing and bring tidal stream technology to commercial reality. Together with stakeholders, we have an opportunity to create industry best practice for environmental impact assessments and marine operations. I look forward to working with all concerned to contribute to the foundations of this emerging industry.”
This initiative has been well received by Catithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP John Thurso, who told the John O’Groats Journal: “For development to go ahead it is critical to secure grid connections and that has been achieved making this an extremely important project. It will put prototype devices in the water and they are a necessary beginning to a process that leads to full-scale commercial device.”
Mr Thurso expected 12 jobs to be created at the outset but this could rise to over 30 in the long term. He believes that the hard work put in by the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnerships is paying off and this new scheme can help the area deal with the decrease in number of jobs at Dounreay nuclear power station.
Louise Smith, Highlands and Islands Enterprise manager of the project, said: “The granting of leases by the Crown Estate has unlocked a logical process for developers to pursue and we look forward to a structured expansion of tidal energy production from the firth over the coming years. It is encouraging to see companies of this calibre developing a detailed strategy for generating power from the Pentland Firth.”