Atlantis, a Singapore-based tidal power company, has announced that it will be investing almost £500 million in its projects in Scotland over the next two years.
Atlantis specialise in building electricity generating turbines in the seabed and have been growing dramatically since they first listed on the Aim back in 2014, looking for £20 million to fund a flagship project off the coast of Scotland.
The flagship project, called MyGen, will ultimately involve 269 turbines being built, generating enough energy to power 175,000 homes. £51 million has already been committed to the first phase of MyGen’s construction in the Pentland Firth, a strait separating the north of Scotland and the Orkney Islands, which is due to start generating power by the end of this year.
Now, Atlantis has partnered with infrastructure investment firm Equitix who have offered a £100 million investment for 25% of each of Altantis’ “project vehicles” over the next two years.
Nick Parker, director at Equitix, said: “We are delighted to be entering into this partnership agreement with Atlantis, the clear market leader in the tidal energy industry which secures access to a pipeline of primary investment opportunities and has tremendous growth potential in the UK.”
Tim Cornelius, CEO of Atlantis, was equally positive about the investment deal.
He said: “This agreement with Equitix is an important step for us in engaging a partner with both vital experience of large infrastructure projects and access to extensive capital, coupled with a desire to work with us to accelerate the further development of the UK’s tidal power industry.”
This boost to the UK tidal power industry represents an important step in terms of renewable energy generation and long-term energy security more generally.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change have said that if we manage to harness all of the UK’s potential tidal power capacity, the technology could generate almost 12% of our total energy demand, though some independent estimates go as high as 20%.
Where tidal power wins over other forms of renewable energy generation such as wind power is in its reliability. Tides can be predicted years into the future and so careful placing of the turbines involved can offset tidal variation, resulting in a dependably consistent stream of energy.
The news of Atlantis’ plans and investment come shortly after plans to develop a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay have been stalled.
The Swansea tidal lagoon project was set to cost around £1 billion and would, if completed, provide power for around 120 years according to various estimates.
The temporary shelving of the plans prompted a DECC review into tidal power generally while many MPs are concerned about the potential effect the stalling may have on our energy security.
The project has been described as an essential “plan B for the security of our energy supply in future years” by former coalition minister Lynne Featherstone. The perceived need for a plan B has been heightened in the wake of the various hurdles in the way of completion of EDF’s Hinkley Point nuclear project.
The announcement of the investment in Atlantis is likely to be hailed as a victory in this light, and Mr Cornelius described it as “the turning point the industry has been waiting for”.
Atlantis’ projects have half the projected cost of the Swansea tidal lagoon and work in an arguably much simpler way.
While the Swansea project involves the building of a large wall jutting out into Swansea Bay, fitted with sluices and turbines, Atlantis are just installing individual turbines straight into the sea bed.
The Swansea project would, if completed, generated 320MW of electricity, while Atlantis claim that their entire portfolio of projects in Scotland will, once finished, generate closer to 650MW.
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said: “It’s great to hear of plans by investors to get behind Scotland’s tidal power industry in a big way.
“With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create skilled, green jobs.”
The creation of new jobs will be a bit positive for these new projects, as the oil industry in Scotland is on a downturn and the last coal powered plant in the country closed recently.