News editorEurope’s largest tidal array gets the go-ahead off Orkney, while efforts begin to salvage the wrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia

Briefing starts the week with congratulations to MeyGen who’ve been granted consent to develop Europe’s largest tidal array in the Pentland Firth.

MeyGen - a joint venture between Morgan Stanley, GDF Suez and Atlantis Resources Corporation - will install the tidal array in stages, beginning with a 9MW demonstration project of up to six turbines. Construction starts in early 2014 with turbines set for commissioning in 2015.

‘When fully operational, the 86MW array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes,’ said Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s energy minister ahead of the Scottish Renewables Marine Conference, which begins today in Inverness. ‘This exciting development in the waters around Orkney is just the first phase for a site that could eventually yield up 398MW.’

Ewing also announced that wave developers Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave Power are to share a portion of a £13m Wave First Array Support Programme, which is part of the Scottish government’s Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund.

The Scottish Renewables Marine Conference takes place over the next two days and will address what the organisers have identified as the main challenges facing Scotland’s wave and tidal sector.

These include improving ways to stimulate private sector investment, maintaining Scotland’s leading position in the sector, and how to maximise opportunities throughout the Scottish supply chain.

Still in the sea and news that salvage experts will try to right the Costa Concordia today in what has been described as one of the most difficult operations of its kind ever undertaken.

Cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized off the island of Isola del Giglio, Tuscany on January 13, 2012.

At 0900 local time efforts began on parbuckling (or rotating) the 290.20m long vessel in an operation that is expected to two days.

The first phase of the salvage operation involved anchoring and stabilisation of the wreck to prevent any slipping or sinking along the steep seabed, whilst the second saw the installation of submarine supports and portside caissons (watertight retaining structures).

Parbuckling will be performed using strand jacks which will be tighten several cables attached to the top of the caissons and to the platforms, which will be pulled seawards, while the cables attached to the starboard turrets will be used for balancing. Forces involved in the operation will have to be carefully offset to rotate the wreck without deforming the hull. Subsequent operations will involve installation of caissons on starboard side, and re-floating.

Atkins announced today that it has experienced one of the largest intakes in its 75 year history with 330 graduates and 75 apprentices joining its UK business.

According to Atkins, the new recruits will take on roles across a range of sectors the company operates in, particularly energy and aerospace.

The company says the high intake is ‘a further sign of a recovering economy’, which was acknowledged today by EEF.

The manufacturer’s organisation welcomes indicators that show the economic recovery is on track but warns that it will amount to little if it can’t be sustained.

To this end, EEF published Route to Growth – An Industrial Strategy for a Stronger, Better Balanced Economy in 2012 and today they’ve issued a review highlighting the challenges that remain ahead in order to maintain sustainable growth.

In Industrial Strategy – One Year On they say, ‘Sustainable growth has to be built on the foundations of higher levels of investment and a dynamic and growing export sector –not on a consumer-led boom.

‘It is now critical that we start to build a consensus on the key components of a broad economy-wide strategy that will keep us the right growth path. Government departments must work more closely together and provide consistent support to businesses. Without this we are in danger of failing to adequately address the challenges of supporting business investment, building critical supply chains, finding a long term solutions to SME financing needs and avoiding the pitfalls of returning to a consumption-based recovery.’

The full assessment can be downloaded as a Word file at the end of this article.