Scottish island to shift to tidal power

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_]