Sunday, August 30, 2009

Scottish island moving to 100% tidal power

Claggain Bay, Islay

The Scottish island of Islay is reported to be moving itself entirely to tidal power. According to the Guardian the island, which is home to 3500 people, will soon get all its electricity from turbines placed in the Sound of Islay. The island, Scotland’s fifth largest, is known for its whiskey.

According to the article the project will provide the 239 square mile island with 10MW of power by 2011. At £50m it’s not an inexpensive undertaking, but the move towards renewable energy seems perfect for the circumstances. The tides around the island move at up to 3 meters a second making them ideally suited for the power turbines.

As well suited as tidal power is for an island, the technology is still in its earliest stages. In fact, the articles goes on to point out that tidal energy generation is more expensive than offshore solar projects, which themselves can cost up to £3m per megawatt. Despite the price difference tidal energy should be more reliable than wind power, which fluctuates based on weather conditions, and will outlast the the current solution, a nuclear reaction on the mainland which stop being used in 2016.

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