Scottish island to shift to tidal power

Paul Raven @ 27-08-2009

Lagavulin Distillery, IslayThe remote Scottish island of Islay suffers from irregular electricity supply thanks to being separated by the sea from the the soon-to-be-decommissioned Hunterston nuclear reactor on the mainland. That’s set to change, however, with ScottishPower about to sign a deal that will see the island getting all its power needs from tidal generators:

The company is close to signing a supply contract with Diageo, the drinks group, to provide electricity from the project to eight distilleries and maltings on Islay – including the makers of the renowned Laphroaig and Lagavulin whiskies.

The 10MW tidal project, one of the world’s largest, will provide enough electricity for Islay’s 3,500 inhabitants for 23 hours a day.

ScottishPower will submit a planning application in the next couple of months and expects the ten 30-metre underwater turbines to be operational in 2011. The turbines will cost about £50m to install.

Note that corporate tie-in? Smart move; gives you good leverage against the NIMBY lobby. In fact, the whole operation has a “hearts and minds” tone to it:

The Islay Energy Trust, a community organisation chaired by Philip Maxwell, has been helping to lobby local politicians and opponents of the project. In return, it will receive a small slice of the revenue to fund community projects on the island, such as a swimming pool.

I wonder if this will become a blueprint for renewable energy switchovers? Make the deal sweet enough, and the objections will shrink away… sounds like another battleground where the rules of infowar will come in handy. [image by _basquiat_]

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