Scotland might be the leader, but other parts of the United Kingdom are jumping on the tidal-energy bandwagon. The latest entry from this sceptered isle: Wales, a country of just 3 million people, but with some 750 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. The government there said a demonstration tidal-energy system – Wales’ “first full-scale tidal stream energy generator” – was going forward thanks to £6.4 million in funding from the European Union.
In its announcment, Wales called the 1.2-megawatt (MW) capacity DeltaStream a “unique device,” invented by a local Pembrokeshire engineer, Richard Ayre. The government said the contraption “sits on the sea bed without foundations and uses tidal currents to generate clean electricity” and “has been designed to minimise impact on the environment.” The device will be sited in 2012 in Ramsay Sound, Pembrokeshire, after which it is expected to provide a sustainable source of power to the people of St David’s during a yearlong demonstration period.
Total cost of the project, to be carried out by the Tidal Energy, is pegged at £11 million, with £4.5 million in private funding coming from the Cardiff-based renewable energy company Eco2. According to David Williams, chief executive of Eco2, the DeltaStream device “combines innovative blade design with portability and high efficiency.”
While this is the first full-scale tidal power project coming to Wales, more should be on the way. As we reported earlier this year, Marine Current Turbines (MCT) and RWE npower renewables announced that they have filed an application for permission to install a 10-MW array of tidal stream turbines off the coast of Wales in 2015.