By Fran Willby
According to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) there will be up to 180MW of global wave and tidal energy projects available by late 2016, with the UK potentially hosting between 70-80 per cent of installations.

Scotland is leading the marine energy sector with seven of the world’s eight tidal demonstrations based in its waters. Many of these technologies were on display last month at Scotland’s premier renewables show, All-Energy 2012.

Some of the technologies exhibited were already deployed as test devices in various marine energy parks across the globe, whilst others had only recently been brought to the industry’s attention.

Technology providers ranged from those using a more ‘traditional’ turbine developed from the wind industry (Andritz Hydro, Nautricity, Marine Current Turbines, TidalStream and Tocardo BV) through to OpenHydro’s seabed mounted turbine device, which is reminiscent of an aeroplane propeller.

For marine energy to really achieve its potential it must prove it is commercially viable; the world’s available ‘water-to-wire’ resource cannot simply be harnessed but must become a competitive industrial player. 

Which is exactly what the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), based in Scotland, aims to do; test marine technologies to determine those that can be connected to our electricity grids and those that are simply a great technological development, but idealistic in regards to cost-competitiveness.

Tidal energy, unlike its close relative wave, has the potential to be a major contributor to our global energy mix. Scottish tidal power is estimated at up to 7.5GW (25% of the EU’s total capacity).  The commercial advantage of tidal technology is that it provides a predictable source of energy that can contribute to the overall energy mix to secure a constant source of power generation.

In addition, unlike most renewable technologies that frequently face resistance due to their visibility, tidal devices are submerged at subsea level so there is no visual or audible pollution.

Although less predictable than tidal power, to put the power of wave energy into perspective, Scotland has an estimated potential of up to 14GW (10% of the EU’s capacity) making it an important part of the energy mix. Many wave energy converters were displayed at All-Energy including Pelamis Wave Power, Wello and Langlee Wave Power.

The range of technologies on display at All-Energy demonstrated the marine energy sector’s future role in supporting low-carbon energy roadmaps and targets with Scotland, the UK and Europe. 

With such excitement, possibility and potential commercial viability, the answers to many of the difficult questions facing populations and politicians about future energy security could all be answered by simply looking to the waters that surround us.

Courtesy of Fran Willby, Life Size Media

Life Size Media is a creative communications agency specialising in emerging low-carbon technologies.


# clootie 2012-06-08 06:24
Wave power is going to be a tremendous success. We still need to combine our full package effectively (Wind / tidal / Hydro etc)

The energy supplies and our fresh water (including a sell off) remain juicy targets for the unionists.

As Alec has often stated we need to re-industrialise Scotland.

Choices about Scotlands future made in Scotland - Sounds good to me.
# UpSpake 2012-06-08 12:26
Balanced sources of energy covering all the options including a place for wind, common sense.
Manic installation of wond turbines all over the country, short sighted nonsense.
Work fine if we banish all high pressure conditions over our country.
Underground - geothermal and under-sea -tidal - smart thinking.
# xyz 2012-06-08 12:56
What are the stats on high pressure no wind days?

Wind energy is already playing a huge part in producing green energy. It'll be even better when we can easily store and utilise the energy in the shape of hydrogen. Being able to store the energy will mitigate for the non productive days. The technology is already here, all that is required is the infrastructure to increase the utilisation of hydrogen for electricity production.
# Holebender 2012-06-08 13:08
I would just like to point out (before we get more rants about windmills) that the article focuses on marine energy.
# Macart 2012-06-08 12:46
Steady as she goes. There is real potential here and a real chance not just to be an industry leader, but a world leader in this technology. Always assuming that Westminster doesn't scupper it along with carbon capture, just to spite us radicals.
# clootie 2012-06-08 13:18
Always assuming that Westminster doesn't scupper it along with carbon capture, just to spite us radicals

-----"and there lies the rub"
# Macart 2012-06-08 16:32
Well they are putting together a track record on this clootie.
# chicmac 2012-06-08 22:21
I would point out that wave is a much 'closer relative' to wind than it is to tidal stream.

Yes, tidal and wave are marine technologies and can use similar looking technology, however wave power is ultimately, actually caused by the wind.

Wave will continue to supply energy for a short time after the wind has lulled. If the lulls are short enough then there can be a continuity of wave energy production. However, if there is a long period of flat calm, as can and will happen, then wave production will also fall to zero.

That is why wave is related to wind, literally, it is a parent-child relationship.

What it means is that almost EGR 100% capacity has to be maintained and kept in readiness with wind and wave, whether it is used or not.

However, tidal, despite having superficial similarities to wave, is a completely different physical phenomena. It is not weather/wind dependent at all. It is completely predictable and produces power 20 hours a day every day.

As I have tried to point out many times now, combined with a pumped storage to bridge the tidal turnaround lows, tidal stream represents a real drop in baseload.

That is enormously beneficial financially.
Like Kryten on Red Dwarf I have to keep repeating this point because it is so very important.

So I will spell it out once more.

IF Scotland produced all of its EGR (5GW) with tidal and HE pumped storage, there would be no need for backup production systems.


It really is the salient point commercially.

The next point is that it is all well and good trying out different turbines, however, the main unknown is actually how array configuration impacts on energy yield. No point in going into the complexities here, but it is quite possible that the turbine which, after all that test time, performs the best on an individual basis, might not even necessarily be the one which will perform best in an optimised array configuration.

The optimisation process should therefore include a low tech/cheap large array deployment experiment in parallel with the above. Preferably with variable duct assisted small/cheap turbines, efficiency only has to be reasonable. At least until the various pressure/flow/yield theories have been tested.

Finally, the UK government through the DTI effectively prevented the development of tidal stream for two decades at least, until an SNP Government was imminent, I won't go into the ludicrous funding hoops involved which when people complained were made even more ridiculous, suffice it to say that at one point their own Science Committee published an open letter asking them why they were not pursuing it.
# Holebender 2012-06-08 23:03
I would just like to add to Chic's post if we place several large tidal stream arrays at various strategic locations around our coast we will be able to generate power from locations A and B while location C is experiencing slack water. Similarly, locations B and C will be generating while location A is not, and so on.
# john__ 2012-06-10 19:53
"however wave power is ultimately, actually caused by the wind."

Except that wave is caused by wind many miles away, being built up by wind across the entire fetch of the marine system. That is why we are in such a good position (for our prevailing wind direction we have most of the atlantic to build up a swell). It is very seldom that there is little swell in the open ocean.

# chicmac 2012-06-11 14:42
Large, slow moving High pressure regions across the North Atlantic do occur. And although rarer than most people in the UK would like, nevertheless they occur frequently enough such that full back-up electricity generating systems would be required. Wave power, even swell rather than surface, does fall to effectively zero in regard to output.

The main technical advantage of wind is that sea response is slower and therefore more predictable leading to more efficient and controlled ramping of backup.
# Wee-Scamp 2012-06-09 08:54
And sad to say not a single one of the current technologies is manufactured by a Scottish company. What are we going to do about that?
# Fungus 2012-06-09 13:45
Become independent. Get our hands on the fiscal levers and start spending our own money for the benefit of our own people.
# john__ 2012-06-10 20:23
TGL (owned by Rolls Royce) is manufactured in Dalgety bay (or at least the prototype is). Admittedly a lot of the design is done in Bristol.


ps. what is this time limit on re-posting about? How are you supposed to add information to a debate if you keep getting blocked? It's not like I am a new poster or anything. It is the comments on this site that have made it such a vibrant place for debate. Do not ruin that by putting in a time limit . Particularly one of half an hour(I have just seen the post on another thread about the time limit). How are you supposed to comment on two different stories? How are you supposed to answer two different questions (as I was trying to here). You will ruin the flow of discussions.

I know that you don't want to be flooded with spam and that you are all volunteers, but please at least give more established commentators the ability to post more frequently. Not everyone has time to hang around for 30 minutes between posts.
# Caadfael 2012-06-09 14:04
The Gorlov turbine has that advantage Chicmac, and additionally it can be deployed as a horizontal or vertical axis device, and therefore could be installed across the Tay in both configurations, vert in deeper water, horiz in shallower areas.*(M)
A short list for you HB,add in Montrose Basin,*(S) immediately east of the road bridge, Loch Spelve on Mull,*(M) The Corran Narrows, Kyle Rhea/Glenelg deepwater array in the Pentland Firth *(M)
Aye Scamp, I'm sure Tata would be able to supply ample steel of the correct grade and BiFab certainly have the expertise.
As things stand, we're in danger of just becoming an industrial whore, paying out to all and sundry for what we should be making ourselves!

*M -multiple arrays
*S = single array.

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