MeyGen, the world’s largest tidal stream development, today welcomed Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, to its site in Caithness. The Minister visited the site to witness first-hand the onshore and offshore construction works taking place, and spoke to the infrastructure team on the ground about the engineering aspects of this pioneering marine project.
The Minister’s visit coincides with a series of successful milestones completed by MeyGen, demonstrating that progress on the project is well underway and on schedule for delivery.
In particular, the visit marks the completion of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) of bore holes from the foreshore into the inner sound and down to the seabed, with successful subsea exits on all four bore holes. Each hole is 550 meters in length and will house power cables which will connect the subsea turbines to the onshore Power Conversion Centre.
Works on the onshore facilities have also taken a step forward with construction on the Power Conversion Centre starting this week. The Power Conversion Centre will take the power generated by the subsea turbines and feed it into the electricity grid.
Meanwhile, grid connection cable burial works along the 12 mile route from Hastigrow have also commenced.
Commenting on his visit, Fergus Ewing said: “This is an exciting, first-of-a-kind project. I am pleased to be here in Caithness to mark this significant step forward in the onshore construction works which has created vital employment for the area.
“The eyes of the global marine industry are on this project. I am heartened to see the involvement of home-grown companies including John Gunn & Sons Ltd and Leask Marine, and I very much hope there will be further opportunities for the Scottish supply chain. When fully operational this tidal stream array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 175,000 homes.”
MeyGen was one of the first tidal projects in the world to secure the necessary planning consent, lease agreement, grid connection and power purchase agreement in order to begin onshore and offshore construction. Atlantis Resources, the leading tidal project developer, is the majority owner of MeyGen.
Dan Pearson, CEO of MeyGen, said: “The MeyGen project represents the best of what Scotland has to offer when it comes to the energy infrastructure development: an integrated supply chain, state of the art manufacturing facilities, and world class engineering skills. We are truly honoured to host the Minister and thank him for his continued support on this pioneering project.”
The project has been supported by Scottish Government’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF), which is administered by Scottish Enterprise. Head of REIF, Andrew Smith, said: “MeyGen’s development is a key project for Scotland’s renewable sector, offering extensive opportunities to Scottish supply chain. We’re delighted to mark the progress being made at the site, which embodies Scotland’s growing reputation as a leading global centre of excellence for development, deployment and commercialisation of tidal energy.”
Calum Davidson, Director Energy & Low Carbon, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “MeyGen is a hugely significant development in marine energy. Crucial to the success of the project is the expertise found in the local supply chain. Therefore, we are delighted to see the initial site works going ahead on time and within budget.”
The MeyGen project is the world’s largest planned tidal development at 398 megawatts of total installed capacity when fully constructed. Situated in the Pentland Firth, the MeyGen array will consist of 269 submerged tidal turbines, enough to power 175,000 Scottish homes. In Phase 1A of the project, four submerged turbines generating 6 MW will be installed in the Inner Pentland Firth just north of Caithness, with first power expected to be delivered in 2016.
ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, is the principal contractor for all onshore construction of the MeyGen project and has been working closely with local businesses John Gunn & Sons Ltd, HRI architects and Leask Marine to fully utilise the Scottish supply chain and boost the local economy.
Ian Funnell Managing Director, ABB UK said: “ABB is proud to contribute to the MeyGen project and to help develop Scotland’s leadership in tidal energy. Not only are we are coordinating from our Scottish engineering office in East Kilbride but we have also appointed local contractors wherever possible to support the Scottish supply chain.”
The MeyGen project’s status as a world first in terms of scale and reach also extends into environmental aspects of the project, which it has incorporated into its design. The Power Conversion centre is designed to withstand and protect the critical electrical equipment against the extreme elements of the Pentland Firth, whilst its unique aesthetic will enable the building to blend into the local environment and offer minimal visual and noise impact on the surrounding countryside. Operationally, the centre has been designed with bespoke water, waste, and cooling solutions, in order to minimise the environmental impact. Minimising any potential impacts on local wildlife is another critical aspect to the project’s design. A dedicated otter crossing has been installed under the roadway and special slit traps surround the entire MeyGen site to prevent any draining water from contaminating natural watercourses.