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Highland built tidal turbine installed in Japan

By Calum MacLeod

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SAE employee Ryan Biggs performing final checks on the turbine.
SAE employee Ryan Biggs performing final checks on the turbine.

The AR500 turbine was installed in Japan's Goto Islands chain by global sustainable energy company and sustainable energy developer Simec Atlantis Energy (SAE), and clocked up its first 10MWh of generation in just the first 10 days of operation.

This is Japan's first working tidal turbine and was assembled and tested in nine weeks prior to being shipped to Japan.

The project included leasing tidal generation equipment and providing offshore construction services to Kyuden Mirai Energy (KME) for a pilot turbine located in the straits of Naru Island.

Offshore construction of the tidal generation equipment took just five days to complete, beginning with the laying of the cable, landing of the foundation structure and ballast to the sea floor, connection of the cable, and finally the installation of the turbine to the foundation.

SAE chief executive Graham Reid said: “We are proud of our team, who worked efficiently and most of all safely during a worldwide pandemic, to bring tidal stream energy to Japan. Throughout the project we have also received great support from our strategic partner, KME, who was supported by a consortium of local and international stakeholders. I would also like to recognise the work of the Scottish Government who continue to support and champion the tidal industry and maximise the benefits to Scotland.

"This is a huge milestone for the deployment of clean, renewable energy from tidal stream and we hope it will be the first of many tidal turbines installed in Japan.”

Simec Atlantis Energy, which is developing the MeyGen tidal array in the Pentland Firth, was also congratulated on the achievement by Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse.

He said: “For over 10 years the Scottish Government has championed the development and deployment of marine energy. We have worked extensively to support the research, development, innovation and demonstration that has made Scotland a global leader in both tidal and wave technology, with several World firsts and initiatives having been progressed in Scotland’s waters.

“I would like to congratulate Simec Atlantis Energy on achieving this significant milestone for the company and also for the workers at Nigg Energy Park who built the turbine which is now successfully generating clean, green electricity in Japan.

"Both the company and the team at Nigg have demonstrated the huge potential for Scotland’s marine energy and the key role it will play in decarbonising our energy both at home and – as demonstrated by this turbine’s successful deployment in Japan – across the world and I look forward to Scotland’s marine energy potential having a further shop window to the international community when delegates gather in Glasgow for COP26, later this year.”

The installation was supported with material guarantees from HSBC UK.

Steven Jolly, deputy head of corporate banking in Scotland at HSBC UK said: “We’re extremely proud to have played a role in helping this Scottish engineering project bring tidal energy to Japan for the first time.

"It’s always exciting to be able to help a business explore new territory and this has been a great project to showcase Scottish engineering on a global scale. HSBC UK is committed to supporting Scottish businesses export globally as they navigate new relationships and opportunities post-Brexit.”

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