'Saudi Arabia of renewable energy' off Scotland's coast

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Linnea
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'Saudi Arabia of renewable energy' off Scotland's coast

Post by Linnea » 06-23-2007 02:36 PM

IAN JOHNSTON ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (ijohnston@scotsman.com)

IT HAS been described as the "greatest untapped source of energy Scotland has ever had", capable of generating enough electricity for every home and business in the country several times over.

But while the Pentland Firth has been too deep and too dangerous to exploit, the race is now on to develop machines that will harness this "underwater hurricane" and fundamentally change Scotland.

Not only could it provide endless supplies of electricity for Scotland and beyond, but spare energy could be used to convert rubbish into environmentally friendly biofuel for cars, trains and airplanes, slashing greenhouse gas emissions and ridding the country of landfill sites.

In August, the world's largest tidal-current generator will be installed on Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough and, next year, ScottishPower will start testing an underwater turbine in the Pentland Firth itself.

ScottishPower believes its system could generate up to a gigawatt (GW) of electricity - equivalent to all of Scotland's wind farms put together, or the power produced by the Hunterston B nuclear power station.

But Professor Stephen Salter, who wrote an energy review for the SNP extolling the potential of the Pentland Firth, believes the actual amount of energy could be as high as ten to 20GW. He was turned down by the previous Scottish Executive for funding to investigate the potential of installing a tidal machine at depths previously considered out of reach, but believes the SNP government could be more receptive.

He said: "If we could do this, we could get twice the electricity Scotland uses at peak demand - it's absolutely enormous. The Pentland Firth is the Saudi Arabia of marine energy. But, if you are in London, energy from the Pentland Firth is a long way away and there's no cable to get it to your voters."

Prof Salter, of Edinburgh University, has developed a form of cylindrical turbine which he believes would be able to go deeper than ever before, where the Pentland Firth's most powerful currents are found.

The water in the fastest- moving channels is about 70 metres deep. His machines operate down to 50m, while seabed-based turbines could be used in the bottom 20m.

The Firth would generate energy in four regular tidal pulses a day, often generating large amounts of power in the middle of the night. Fuel cells or large industrial batteries could be used to store spare electricity, but Prof Salter said it could be used for a process which can turn waste into gas or liquid fuel.

Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Technologies, said the Pentland Firth was the "Mount Everest" for the industry. He added: "There's no doubt it is a stupendously energetic area and the technology will have to be appropriate.

"The big prize is the very fast-moving water in 60m to 70m of water. You are putting units in the equivalent of an underwater hurricane there.

"It's all a question of will. I think we could have done this in half the time if the only challenges were technical."

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Shirleypal
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Post by Shirleypal » 06-23-2007 03:38 PM

Other countries are and well lead the way, the U.S. will do nothing until it is more than likely too late, after all can't be screwing over big oil can we.

Linnea
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Post by Linnea » 06-23-2007 04:43 PM

Don't you think this 'underwater hurricane' and turbine system is exciting! There are energy sources all around us on this planet. Sending out positive vibes to fuel the thought in this world toward these exciting new technologies!

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Post by Shirleypal » 06-23-2007 05:33 PM

I do think it exciiting, and looking forward to these natural technologies being implimented in the near future, I have faith that they well, there is no choice thank goodness.

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Post by Swerdloc » 06-23-2007 05:46 PM

This is very exciting. I can't help but think that God has given us all the resources we need to take care of human society, without despoiling the world, if only we have the good will to discern them and make use of them.
Anchors Aweigh

Linnea
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Post by Linnea » 06-23-2007 06:42 PM

Oh, we do, Bill. It's the greedy retro lizards who have had their day.

Power to the people!

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