In between the Scottish mainland and the Orkney Islands lies the Pentland Firth, a turbulent sound with tides that can reach up to a startling 18 miles per hour. That’s a lot of untapped power. MeyGen is taking advantage of all that renewable energy with the installation of the world’s largest tidal power plant, and if everything goes as expected, the underwater windmills could eventually power a full third of Scotland.
Daily tides in the Pentland Firth are about 11 miles per hour, which is ideal for a tidal power plant, but that same tidal activity makes installing massive turbines difficult. Nonetheless, the new power station is expected to produce 398 megawatts of electricity every year. That would make it the biggest tidal power plant, passing South Korea’s Sihwa Lake, which generates 254 megawatts each year.
The plan for building the plant involves dropping 61 turbines onto the floor of the sea, where each one will be weighed in place by concrete legs. Each turbine has rotary blades like a windmill, so to sea life and any wayward divers, the plant will look like a giant undersea wind farm. Though it isn’t the first time someone has used this technology to generate power – there is, among others, one installation in New York City – it is the first time anyone has attempted it at this scale. If it all works, it could set the standard for arrays like this one.
Via Next City