Project managers from ScottishPower Renewables met today (Friday 26th October) with more than 90 potential suppliers in Dunstaffnage near Oban as the renewable energy company progresses with its plans to develop a tidal power array in The Sound of Islay, potentially the first of its kind in the world.
ScottishPower Renewables was granted permission to install up to 10 tidal turbines in the Sound of Islay last year, and the company is now looking in detail at the supply chain for the project. With support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Energy North, the session in Oban was arranged to encourage local businesses and suppliers to learn more about the project and to make their services known to ScottishPower Renewables and ANDRITZ HYDRO Hammerfest, the project’s technology provider.
Alan Mortimer, Head of Innovation at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Tidal power has tremendous potential to supply a significant proportion of Scotland’s electricity needs in the coming decades. We have some of the best marine power resources of any country in the world. Our proposed tidal power project in Islay is the only scheme in Scotland to have received planning permission, so we are breaking new ground when it comes to delivering a project of this nature.
“For the industry to deliver tidal power projects there needs to be a strong supply chain that includes local companies who can provide a range of products and services to support these developments. We have been working very closely with HIE, Energy North and Argyll and Bute Council to engage local firms who could have something to offer to the marine renewable energy industry.
“There will be exciting opportunities for companies who get involved in tidal power projects at the ground level. Islay may be the first tidal power project that is being developed, but there are many other large projects being considered in Scotland and across the world. We are delighted with the interest shown in today’s event and we hope that as many companies as possible can benefit from Scotland’s tidal power resources.”
Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll & Bute, said: “This event gives an exciting opportunity to local companies. For Argyll and Bute to benefit from renewables there needs to be a strong supply chain established here, and one that is flexible enough to serve and support all types of renewable activity. ScottishPower Renewables is to be commended for helping to focus attention on that need and giving companies and individuals the chance to find out how they might become involved”.
Douglas Cowan, HIE’s Area Manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “Wave and tidal developments will offer a real, demonstrable economic prize for the Highlands and Islands. For this, we need a strong supply chain. From feasibility studies, planning applications, ecological and ornithological surveys, through site design, GIS mapping, aviation and radar studies, construction, servicing, manufacturing and more, the breadth of expertise required is phenomenal.
“The Sound of Islay tidal array planned by ScottishPower Renewables is a pioneering project which will lead the world in the development of tidal sites. At Highlands and Islands Enterprise we have a central role in helping businesses overcome barriers to entering the energy supply chain market. We are delighted at the number of businesses who came along to this local event, which will help create opportunities for critical parts of the local Highlands and Islands energy supply chain - assisting them to become involved in one of the most exciting and groundbreaking projects in Scotland for many years.”
Argyll & Bute Council Leader Roddy McCuish, said: “The council’s Economic Development Action Plan and Renewable Energy Action Plan demonstrate the commitment of the council to realise renewable energy opportunities in Argyll and Bute in a manner that co-exists with our communities.
“Scottish Power Renewables have played a key role in developing partnership working in realising our economic opportunities in Argyll and Bute with investment, agreeing to community concordats and working with third sector organisation like the Islay Energy Trust.
“There are a number of direct supply chain opportunities revolving around fabrication, marine survey services, workboat building and repair, onshore construction and maintenance. There are also potential indirect opportunities relating to accommodation, food and drink and supplies.
“However, we need to ask, is the supply chain in place? Collectively we are highlighting these opportunities to business and industries in and around Argyll and Bute and encourage them, where necessary, to learn new skills or invest in equipment that allows them to not only realise opportunities here at home, but also to develop the potential to export their services where appropriate.
“Whilst renewable energy is sustainable and great efforts are made to ensure that developments co-exist with our natural environment and wildlife, genuine sustainability is ensuring that developments co-exist with our communities in a manner that provides real economic growth.“
ScottishPower Renewables aims to start work on the Islay project in 2013, with machines being installed as early as feasible from 2014. A prototype 1MW (megawatt) tidal power machine was successfully installed for testing off the coast of Orkney late last year. The industry-leading technology has been developed by ANDRITZ HYDRO Hammerfest, who successfully operated a smaller prototype machine in Norwegian waters for more than 6 years and is currently testing their latest model of machine, the HS1000, at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
The event was held at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), home of the Scottish Marine Institute and the centre of the marine science cluster in Argyll. SAMS is a centre for research, education and world-class environmental surveying, sampling, monitoring and analysis, as well as an educational partner in the University of the Highlands and Islands. It is located next to the new European Marine Science Park, one of Highlands and Islands Enterprise's current major infrastructure investments incorporating marine science, research and development, education and commercial activity. The project aims to create an international centre of excellence.