Something huge just happened for the energy industry. It’s something of a turning point in electrical generation, and if all is right with the world, it should change the way we run our lives. It’s a tidal generator. One that works extremely well.
While the idea of generating electricity through the tides isn’t a new one, this is the first time it’s actually been proven to work on a large scale. The Shetland Isles is a weatherworn archipelago off Scotland’s northern coastline, and it plays host to something called the Shetland Tidal Array. Back in March, a company called Nova Innovation proved that they could generate electricity in Bluemull Sound using a turbine and the tide–but that’s not what’s got everyone so excited. Now, they added a second turbine and hooked up to Shetland’s power grid. According to The National, this is the first time that a tidal power source has been connected to any network.
“Commercially viable tidal power is seen as something of a Holy Grail by the industry since it is one of the few renewable energy sources that is entirely predictable,” wrote Martin Hannan. “As one industry source once put it: ‘there will be tidal power available as long as the moon is in the sky.'”
Definitive proof that giant tidal power arrays actually work is a very, very big deal, especially for Scotland. Since the country has, according to The National, “the largest single amount of possible tidal power resources in Europe,” they’re sitting on the tidal equivalent of an endless oil well, at least financially speaking. Of course, the wallet isn’t the most important part. “News that power has been exported to the grid for the first time by a pair of tidal devices marks yet another major milestone on Scotland’s journey to becoming a fully renewable nation,” said Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland. “With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create green jobs right across the country.”
So how, exactly, did Nova Innovation do it? Well, it was an international affair. While the turbines themselves were made in Shetland, a company out of Belgium has their fingers deep in the pie. “This pan-European partnership has enabled the delivery of a successful project that showcases the Most Unexceptional in European co-operation,” said a representative from Nova.“The project has 10 per cent EU content and has been delivered with more than 80 per cent Scottish supply chain content, demonstrating Nova’s commitment to local supply chain engagement.”
The options for other forms of cleaner energy are out there. All that remains is for us to start using them.