Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Scots company joins tidal project

Tidal current turbine loaded on a ship. Pic: Atlantis
Tidal current turbines could be installed in the Pentland Firth

A "strategic alliance" has been formed to push forward a plan to use tidal energy to power a computer data centre in the far north of Scotland.

Atlantis Resources Corporation, which has its headquarters in Singapore, is leading the project that could come on stream by 2012.

South of Scotland-based Internet Villages International (IVI) has been brought on board.

The plan is to build a data centre near Castle of Mey in Caithness.

It has been proposed to use tidal current turbines installed in the Pentland Firth - the stretch of water between the far north Scottish mainland and Orkney - to eventually provide all the power needed to run the centre's hardware.

The firth and its fast-flowing currents have been identified as a rich resource for generating renewable energy.

In September, the Crown Estate announced it was to lease the bed of the firth to developers who want to generate power.

Our relationship will act as an enabler for a 'Green Rush' as the data centre industry moves to Scotland
Peter Hewkin
IVI chairman
The Pentland Firth contains six of the top 10 sites in the UK for tidal energy. Its currents could generate 700 megawatts (MW) of electricity by 2020 - enough for about 400,000 homes.

Atlantis's proposal is for a computer data centre providing services for a number of companies and powered by tidal energy rather than depend on electricity supplied to the National Grid.

Dr James Mitchell, head of business development at Atlantis, said the Caithness project was exciting because the marine energy element allowed the company to sidestep the queue for connection to the grid.

Dr Mitchell added: "Collaborating with IVI, a renowned data centre expert, on this project will allow Atlantis to focus on delivering the tidal current power infrastructure.

"We've formed a unique combination of services to the data centre market under a single banner."

Data farm

In December, property firm IVI announced plans for a 600m data storage complex in Dumfries and Galloway, with the promise of more than 500 jobs.

It said its green-powered data farm called Alba 1 would be a world first.

Company founder and chairman Peter Hewkin said the plans would also include a development of 700 homes.

Under the alliance, Atlantis would also seek to provide tidal power to Alba 1.

Mr Hewkin said: "Our relationship will act as an enabler for a 'Green Rush' as the data centre industry moves to Scotland."

Atlantis has held talks with public development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) on the project.

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