World Bulletin / News Desk
Proposed tidal turbines in Pentland Firth, which separates the Orkney Islands from mainland Scotland, would generate much less power than previously estimated, new research showed on Wednesday.
The Pentland Firth and Orkney areas of Scotland have some of the best conditions to deploy marine energy.
Due to the strength and speed of its tides, the firth was once called the "Saudi Arabia of tidal power" byScotland First Minster Alex Salmond.
New research led by the University of Oxford suggests, however, that the maximum that Pentland Firth could produce would be 1.9 gigawatts, with 1 GW a more realistic target.
That is far below previous estimates of 10 GW to as much as 20 GW. So far, the Crown Estate has entered into leasing agreements for projects in the area with a potential capacity of up to 1.6 GW.
The study was less optimistic about the firth's potential because it took into account factors such as how many turbines it would be feasible to build, how they would interact with each other and variations from tidal cycles.
"Our study provides the first robust data about how much energy it would be feasible to extract," saidThomas Adcock, lead author of the report and fellow in engineering science at Oxford University.
Pentland Firth could still generate power equivalent to almost half of Scotland's annual electricity consumption, which amounted to 37 terrawatt hours in 2011, Adcock added.
Currents around the Orkneys run at up to 5 metres per second because of a very fast tidal stream between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.
A maximum of three rows of turbines could be deployed in the Pentland Firth without disturbing the generation capacity of the tidal flow, the study found.
Marine energy is still in its infancy worldwide compared with other renewable sources such as wind or solar power. No large-scale commercial wave or tidal facility is yet in operation.
Britain is betting on its potential, aiming for 100 to 200 megawatts of wave and tidal energy installed by 2020 but has yet to make the leap from prototype to full-scale arrays.
The full study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Temmuz 2013, 12:43