Work is due to start in Q4 this year on what its backers are calling the world’s biggest tidal array after its owners agreed a £50 million funding package from the Scottish and UK Governments and the UK's Crown Estate.
The MeyGen project, owned by UK-listed Atlantis Resources, will be built in Scotland's Pentland Firth and, when completed, it will have 269 turbines generating enough power for 200,000 homes. The first power is expected from the project in 2016.
The first phase of the project, called Phase 1a, will consist of four 1.5MW turbines and the construction of the onshore infrastructure needed to support the project.
The Pentland Firth is the body of water that separates the north Scottish mainland from Stroma Island.
The initial array will provide information on the interactions between the array and the environment and increase the understanding for subsequent phases.
MeyGen will use multiple tidal turbine suppliers, specifically, Atlantis Resources Corporation's AR1000 and Andtritz Hydro Hammerfest's HS1000. The array is being designed so that other devices could also be incorporated.
Each Phase 1 turbine will have its own dedicated export shore to shore. Cables will be brought to shore via horizontal directional drilled bores through the bedrock. Cables will be brought to shore and terminated in the power conversion centre (PCC). At the PCC the electricity is transformed up to higher voltages for export to the national grid. All onshore cables will be buried.
The £51m scheme could inspire further projects in the Pentland Firth - says the UK Government.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “Meygen will be the biggest tidal stream array in the world, providing enough electricity for 175,000 homes and 100 ‘green jobs’ when completed.
“Wave and tidal power have the potential to provide more than 20% of the UK’s electricity needs, and Meygen could pave the way for future projects in the Pentland Firth.”
The UK Government says the UK has about 50% of Europe's tidal energy resource and that it could meet meet 20% of the UK’s electricity demand.
Renewable energy generation is expected to play a major role in replacing one-fifth of the UK’s aging coal and gas fired power plants which are due to be brought off-line by 2020, the government adds.