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.
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
“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
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