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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Orkney tidal power plans unveiled
The project aims to harness the power of the sea
One of the world's largest tidal energy projects has been unveiled off Orkney in a bid to help make Scotland "the energy powerhouse of Europe".

First Minister Alex Salmond opened the new testing facility at the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec).

The site will house energy converters, capable of generating electricity for thousands of homes.

The centre is believed to be the first of its kind in the world to provide a purpose-built testing facility.

Mr Salmond said the development was another step towards fulfilling Scotland's renewables potential.

We must take full advantage of the opportunity this offers and the benefits it can bring to the area and the country
Sandy Cumming
Highlands and Islands Enterprise

He said: "These are the energy resources like wave, like wind, like tidal to come, like offshore wind, like carbon capture, where Scotland has a natural comparative advantage.

"We can generate not only enough energy for Scotland but enough to be the energy powerhouse of Europe.

"All we have to do is make sure we are leading in these technologies and find a way export power from power rich Scotland to power poor Europe."

The centre offers developers the opportunity to test prototype devices in wave and tidal conditions.

Wave and tidal energy converters are connected to the National Grid via seabed cables.

The new tidal project is sited at the Fall of Warness, off the outlying island of Eday.

'Reinforce this'

Chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Sandy Cumming, speaking on behalf of the funders, said: "HIE, together with our partners, is delighted that Emec is becoming established as a world leader in marine energy and that this phase will consolidate its international reputation.

"No other facilities of this kind exist anywhere in the world.

"Scotland is currently at the forefront of research and commercialisation of wave and tidal energy generation. We must take full advantage of the opportunity this offers and the benefits it can bring to the area and the country."

Orkney Islands Council convener Stephen Hagan said: "The council has always been a key supporter of Emec, and warmly welcomes the opening of this new stage in Emec's development.

"Orkney's abundance of renewable resources, especially wave and tidal streams gives it an advantage in marine renewables.

"These resources support a growing cluster of public and private sector, and academic, activity in renewables in the islands. Emec lies at the core of this cluster and the new tidal energy testing facility will reinforce this."

Positive waves over power project
30 Aug 06 |  Scotland
Orkney energy centre wins backing
24 Apr 06 |  North East/N Isles
Sea energy 'could help power UK'
24 Jan 06 |  Science/Nature

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