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Big leap for tidal energy in Scotland as turbine begins to produce power

RyanDeanMorrison | iStock | Getty Images

One of the world's most ambitious tidal energy projects has started to generate power for the first time.

In a news release on Tuesday, Atlantis Resources – the indirect majority owner of the MeyGen project, as the tidal scheme is known – said that a turbine was exporting electricity for the first time in an area off the north coast of Scotland.

"The success of this first phase is a foundation for the tidal industry to build upon to ensure we develop a new energy sector which can deliver clean, predictable and affordable power from the U.K.'s own abundant resources," Tim Cornelius, Atlantis CEO, said in a statement.

"When it comes to energy, we think consumers should be asking for the moon, and we know how to harness it."

The potential of tidal energy is significant. In 2013, for example, the U.K. government said that wave and tidal stream energy had the potential to meet as much as 20 percent of the U.K.'s electricity demand.

Earlier this year, Nova Innovation said that it had deployed the world's first "fully-operational, commercial, grid-connected offshore tidal array in Shetland."

In a statement commenting on the developments surrounding the MeyGen project, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks described it as "a really exciting moment."

"Coming only a few months after turbines off Shetland generated their first power, it's a sign that Scotland is really starting to make progress in harnessing the power of our seas," Banks added.

Banks went on to say that, going forward, marine renewables had the potential to play a role in powering homes and businesses.

"If we are to secure such a future it's important that the Scottish government's forthcoming energy strategy sets an ambition to secure at least half of all our energy needs from renewables by 2030," he added. "Doing so would ensure Scotland maximizes the benefits from a transition to a zero-carbon economy."