Its been announced today that major new tidal energy projects will be launched in the Pentland Firth, the Sound of Islay and the Antrim coast.
The Pentland Firth in particular has been described as ‘the Saudi Arabia of tidal power’ and could provide Scotland with half its electricity [Robert Gordon University estimate] (Over 15 TWHrs per annum).
Tidal farms around Orkney and Shetland may produce 25 000 MW (73 TWHrs per annum).
Although the annual needs are measured in TWHrs, the actual plant machinery is measured in MW or GW. It is then factored into how much electricity it can provide in a year, taking a third as a load factor.
A 6 GW plant provides 6 x 365 (days in a year) x 24 (hours in a day) x 0.33 (load factor)
i.e. 17.2 TWHrs.
Installed nuclear plant has 2.09 GW, (July 08). [6.1 TWHr]
Installed renewables plant have 2.96 GW (Sept 08 figure). [8.64 TWHr]
In total, Scottish electrical plant from all fuel sources has 10.3 GW [30 TWHr]. As you can work out from the Robert Gordon figure, this pretty much equates to what Scotland uses in electrical requirement.
But, as you can see with the figures talked about regarding the Pentland Firth and the Northern Isles alone, Scotland has far more energy potential than it needs, it has the capability to export vast amounts of electrical power.
The nuclear argument is a red herring. As long as we build over 2 GW of renewable plant by the time the last Scottish nuclear plant Torness is decommisioned (expected in 2023), we should replace the nuclear output with ease.
Scotland doesn’t need it.
The tide is turning.