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Scotland rules the waves

22/01/2009

One of the world's largest wave stations will be constructed off the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles, creating up to 70 jobs and advancing Scotland's lead in renewable energy.

Ministers have granted consent for npower renewables application to operate a wave farm with a 4MW capacity at Siadar, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles. It is one of the first marine renewable energy projects to be approved in the UK and follows the recent launch of the £10 million Saltire Prize.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"Today's announcement is a significant step in Scotland's journey to become a world leader in renewables. The Siadar wave farm will be one of the largest consented wave electricity generating station in the world. It is the first commercial wave farm in Scotland and is starting with a capacity to power around 1,800 homes.

"This is proof of Scotland's unique opportunities in renewables and evidence that we are already on the way to seizing every opportunity to maximise our natural resources and capability to generate clean, green energy.

"The Scottish Government's six point economic recovery programme identifies the renewables sector as a key strength of our economy and one which continues to grow through the current downturn. Nationally, this development will further strengthen our sector and locally, it has the potential to create up to 70 jobs in the Western Isles.

"I know that the community is fully supportive of npower's plans for Siadar, particularly as it will create the added benefit of improved boat access. And of course it comes less than two months after we unveiled the #10 million Saltire Prize to develop marine energy which has already received 63 registrations of interest from 18 countries across five continents.

"This is good news for the Western Isles and for Scotland but its long-term potential is global. I wish power the very best in the development of this innovative wave farm."

The decision on this application has made within the Scottish Government's target of nine months.

The Scottish Government granted consent in September 2007 for a 3 MW array comprising 4 Pelamis machines at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. The Pelamis machines float on the surface of the waves, as distinct to the 40 turbines (4 MW) at the proposed Siadar wave energy station, which will be encased within a concrete breakwater structure.

The Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 30 renewable project applications - 23 wind farms and seven hydro projects, with more applications expected.

The Scottish Government has determined 24 energy applications, including approval for 18 renewable and one non-renewable project since May 2007 - more determinations than over the whole of the previous four years, in which 19 projects were determined. New applications are being dealt with in line with the Scottish Government's new target to come to a decision within nine months, where there is no public inquiry.

Scottish Government targets are to meet 50 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020, and an interim target of 31 per cent by 2011.

Total installed capacity of renewables in Scotland is over three Gigawatts. Adding in all the potential energy from already consented renewable projects to those already operating brings the total to 5.5 Gigawatts, meaning the Scottish Government is set to surpass the 2011 target.

Between 2006 and 2007, data published in the latest Energy Trends bulletin shows that: Renewable electricity accounted for 20.1 per cent of Scottish gross consumption in 2007, up from 16.9 per cent in 2006.

Electricity generated by renewables increased by 18 per cent - electricity from hydro natural flow increased by 11 per cent, electricity from other renewable sources increased by 29 per cent.

Electricity generated from nuclear power fell by 13 per cent, mainly due to unplanned outages at nuclear stations.

Electricity from fossil fuels fell by 12 per cent, with increases in gas (8 per cent) offset by larger reductions in coal (-21 per cent) and oil (-33 per cent). The changes are linked to the price of gas relative to the price of coal.

As a result, Scotland generated 48,217 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, a reduction of almost eight per cent compared to 2006.

Over 15 per cent of all electricity generated in 2007 was exported.