Sites Studied for Tidal Energy Farm off UK Coast

Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has announced plans to investigate the potential for a commercial tidal energy farm in waters off the Anglesey coastline. This follows the UK Government’s Energy Review and the publication of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee report (July 20th) calling on the country’s energy needs for the development of marine renewable energy in the UK.

Marine Current Turbines, which installed the world’s first tidal stream device off the north Devon coast in 2003 (the 300 kW SeaFlow device), is investigating the feasibility of building a 7 unit tidal energy farm in waters off Anglesey. The project has received GBP 700,000 [US$1.2 million] of grant support from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Objective 1 program. MCT will be installing a 1 MW tidal stream device in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough, known as SeaGen, later this year. One single 10 MW tidal farm, subject to receiving the necessary planning consents and financial investment, would be connected to the local electricity network and have the capacity to supply clean and sustainable energy to between 4,000 and 6,500 homes on Anglesey, equating to 10-15% of domestic electricity demand on the island. Andrew Davies, Minister for Enterprise Innovation and Networks in the Welsh Assembly Government, said: “A desk-top study by the Assembly Government to evaluate the wave and tidal resource around the Welsh coast has confirmed a resource of the order of several GWh around North West Anglesey.” Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said: “We believe that the strong currents off the Anglesey offer one of the best resources for tidal energy in the UK and can therefore add to Wales’s energy mix as well as help to reduce the harmful effects of climate change. “The success of our SeaFlow device in the Bristol Channel and our work in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough, with a particular focus given to the environmental assessment of the SeaGen device, gives us every confidence that we can generate clean and sustainable power for Anglesey on a commercial basis with minimal effect on the local and marine environment,” added Wright. Working with the Cardiff office of PMSS Ltd, MCT expects to complete the initial consultations with stakeholders by October 2006, and start the detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), offshore and onshore, thereafter. Once the EIA has been completed, MCT will determine whether or not the waters off Anglesey are a suitable location for an array and whether the necessary consents should be sought. Subject to planning approval and financing, a tidal array could be operational by 2009.

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