The Mull of Kintyre is to be the first test site for a new generation of tidal energy technology following the award of development and demonstration funding by the Scottish government to Nautricity.
Glasgow-based Nautricity will use the £1.4m award towards the £4.9m cost of deploying its CoRMaT tidal current turbine (TCT) in the sea, south of Machrihanish.
The money was provided in the second round of WATERS (Wave & Tidal Energy: Research, Development & Demonstration Support) funding to enable Scottish developers and supply chain companies to capture an increased share of the growing international marine energy market, which could be worth up to £4bn to Scotland’s economy by 2020.
Electricity generated by the device will be fed into the electrical network. It is hoped the testing phase can begin as early as next summer and completed by March 2014, with plans for full-scale commercial deployment ready to begin soon after.
The device, which is said to be capable of generating 500kW of electricity, uses a patented rotor system that overcomes many of the problems that have made tidal energy production uneconomic until now.
While conventional tidal devices resemble wind turbines mounted on the seabed, incurring deployment and engineering costs, CoRMaT is a small capsule, tethered to a sub-surface float, which uses a novel, contra-rotating rotor-generator system to effectively harness tidal energy.
Nautricity, a Strathclyde University spin-out company, has already signed a lease agreement to develop the Kintyre installation with the Crown Estate which, as owner of the UK seabed out to 12 nautical miles, will be the overall guardian and facilitator of the project.
The company is now in discussions with Marine Scotland, the government department responsible for the management of Scotland’s seas, to progress licensing and planning issues.
Cameron Johnstone, chief executive of Nautricity, said: ‘We were already well advanced with plans to deploy our CoRMaT technology, but this award helps significantly to accelerate this deployment and will be the first deployment of a full-scale, second-generation tidal technology in the UK.’