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Sunday, 3 June, 2001, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Wave power hope for Scotland
The powerful tidal currents of the Pentland Firth could be harnessed to provide enough electricity for the whole of Scotland.
This possibility has taken a step closer now that a Scottish professor has been awarded a research grant by Scottish Enterprise to do practical studies into project.
Professor Ian Bryden, head of the Mechanical and Offshore Engineering Department of Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University, would like to see 5,000 small underwater turbines installed in the channel, which separates mainland Scotland from Orkney.
He said the Pentland Firth is one of the best sites in the world to generate electricity, describing it as "the Saudi Arabia of green energy".
Previous studies by the Department of Energy and the European Commission have highlighted the power potential of the currents which flow through the Firth.
Prof Bryden believes the project could create several hundred jobs in the Highlands.
He said: " I am very excited by this grant which will allow me to take the research work much further on.
"The Pentland Firth is an international-standard 'green' energy resource, capable of supplying all of Scotland's electricity needs".
Scottish Enterprise spokeswoman Lindsey Burnett said Professor Bryden's work "has a very exciting potential".
The grant awarded for the present preliminary phase of the study is £50,000.
The power contained in the sea currents is most likely to be harnessed through seabed generators which resemble windmills.
But unlike wind or wave power which produces no electricity in calm conditions, tidal current energy is guaranteed during each of the twice-daily cycles.