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Pete Bevington

3 July, 2008

A SWEDISH company hopes to site the world’s first commercial tidal power generator in Shetland inshore waters next summer, creating a new manufacturing and service industry in the isles.

Sea Power International will soon apply for planning permission to instal its pioneering EXIM tidal turbine in Bluemull Sound, off Cullivoe, Yell.

Two pipe-shaped turbines will be slung off a double-hulled vessel, which the developers say could produce power for Cullivoe harbour’s ice factory to produce “green ice”, alternatively feeding it into the grid or producing hydrogen.

Mr Pettersson is confident to find backing for the £1 million project - Photo: Pete BevingtonManaging director Inge Pettersson has been in Shetland this week speaking to potential investors and partners in the £1 million project, which he hopes will create many highly skilled jobs in the isles.

A new company called Shetland Tidal Power Ltd has been set up with a website being launched next week at www.shetlandtidalpower.com

“We want local participants in this company. I am here to find out what interest there is and so far it’s very positive,” Mr Pettersson said.

Sea Power first came to Shetland in 1999 to build a wave generator off Muness, near Walls, but had to abandon the project because of problems connecting to the local grid.

Later they diversified into tidal power, testing the EXIM turbine off Sweden and then at the Ship Design and Research Centre, at Poland’s Gdansk University, in 2002, before running successful trials in Bluemull Sound five years ago.

Those tests were carried out on 10 sites with financial help from Shetland Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Further developments were held up by the death of the company’s founder Göran Lagström, who was in his 80s.

Despite being managing director for many years, 75 year old Mr Petersson only took the company over last month after lengthy negotiations with Mr Lagström’s seven children who inherited the business and wanted to see it continue to pursue their father’s dreams.

His aim is to start small with a single unit with two turbines producing 22 kilowatts each, but his vision is to see larger turbines producing up to one megawatt connected together to form “tidal parks”.

He already has a works licence to instal a second turbine in Yell Sound, just north west of Ulsta.

Sea Power’s aim is to manufacture and assemble the tidal power units in Shetland using “off the shelf” technology, and believes many jobs could be created running and maintaining the generators.

“We are planning to have the first EXIM in the water in June 2009. This will be the first time it has been placed in the sea commercially,” he said.

The company has focussed on Shetland because of its size, its infrastructure and the outlook of the local people.

“We found the island had a very positive attitude towards renewable energy. It’s also my private philosophy that these types of small island communities are ideal to start from.

“You have manufacturing facilities, you have qualified people, you have an absolute drive from the council to make Shetland an energy island. Put all these things together and that’s what put us here.”

Long term he would like to create a research and development centre providing demonstration projects for other communities to learn from.

Tidal power has been an elusive technology, with some people suggesting it is currently at a stage wind power was at 25 years ago.

The European Marine Energy Centre, in Orkney, currently has Irish tidal power developer OpenHydro testing a generating system which fed the first tidally-produced electricity into the UK’s National Grid in May.

Bristol firm Tidal Generation Ltd is deploying a device at EMEC’s site off the island of Eday with two more firms due to test systems next year.

EMEC’s business development manager Edwina Cook said she had not heard of Sea Power, but confirmed that no one had yet produced electricity from the tides commercially yet.

Most recent update - Tuesday, 04 November 2008 19:27
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