Inner Sound next in line for tidal hydropower projects

The Crown Estate this week took another step towards developing even more tidal energy project in the Pentland Firth region by inviting expressions of interest for a tidal energy hydropower project in the Inner Sound, which lies between Caithness on the Scottish mainland and the island of Stroma.

As one of the most energetic tidal areas in the Pentland Firth, the Inner Sound has potential for a significant commercial tidal energy project, and could increase the potential capacity in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters to more than 1,200 MW.

Successful bidders for the first competitive wave and tidal leasing round in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters were announced in March in Wick, Kirkwall and Edinburgh. During the leasing round process, The Crown Estate received bids for development in the Inner Sound. The preferred bidder withdrew at a late stage in the process.

Given the Inner Sound’s high potential for renewable electricity generation, and the fact that it was one of the most contested areas in the leasing round, The Crown Estate expects that other parties will be interested in the area. It has therefore decided to re-tender the Inner Sound.

The Crown Estate expects a single commercial project of 200 MW or more installed capacity, to be constructed and operating by 2020 in the area.

“After the successful launch of 10 wave and tidal projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters, with a potential capacity of 1,200 MW, we are delighted to make the Inner Sound available for further commercial bids. A tidal project in the Inner Sound could significantly increase the local generation of marine renewable energy and further advance the wave and tidal energy industry. And an increase to the enabling actions fund would help further accelerate and reduce risks in development, through environmental survey work, for example,” said Rob Hastings, director of the Marine Estate at The Crown Estate.

Expressions of interest in the area will be invited and companies will be invited to pre-qualify, from Monday April 19 2010, via The Crown Estate’s e-tendering system. A web link to the e-tendering system will be released on that date. The deadline for expressions of interest and pre-qualification will be 17:00 BST on Friday 28 May 2010. The proposed area for development in the Inner Sound is predefined, and a map and coordinates are available on The Crown Estate website.

As owners of the UK seabed out to the 12-nautical mile territorial limit and over 55 percent of the foreshore, The Crown Estate will continue to work closely with its partners, Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Orkney Islands Council and the Highland Council, to maximize the benefits to the local area and the rest of Scotland from investments such as the offshore renewable energy program.

This article was reprinted with permission from as part of the PennWell Corporation Renewable Energy World Network and may not be reproduced without express written permission from the publisher.

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