Shetland is gearing up to play a significant role in the development of marine energy, with a presentation at the UK's largest renewable energy event in Aberdeen. The first comprehensive study of the islands' potential as a source of wave and tidal power is being promoted this week at All-Energy 2011. The All-Energy Exhibition and Conference has over 500 exhibitors from 20 countries, devoted to all forms of clean and renewable energy.
Officially launched at the Renewable UK Wave and Tidal conference in London in March, the study will be used to promote Shetland as a location for the development of marine renewable energy, potentially attracting business and employment to the islands. Would-be developers will easily be able to identify the best sites for generating electricity using the resource maps contained within the publication.
Data collection and modelling have produced resource maps that successfully fill the gaps in existing information, giving up to 50m resolution through major tidal energy sites at Bluemull and Yell Sound and refining the wave energy resources available up to 500m off the Shetland coastline.
"Shetland has a huge untapped marine energy resource" said Josie Simpson, Chairman of the Shetland Islands Development Committee, and former local fishing skipper. "Finding ways to exploit this resource sustainably is very important for Shetland's future prosperity."
David Priest of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said: "This is a really useful piece of work and fills in a missing gap of information available on the seas around Shetland making it easier for developers to plan. It clearly demonstrates where the best wave and tidal energy is and shows how good resources are in and around Shetland waters."
The data and mapping will become part of the marine atlas of the Shetland Islands Marine Spatial Plan. The main benefits will be in helping marine energy developers identify the most appropriate locations for future marine energy developments and reducing duplication of work in providing quality information.
The Shetland Islands Marine Spatial plan is one of four pilot projects under the umbrella of the Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI) initiated by the Scottish Government to inform future marine policy.
The marine atlas will help inform planning decisions in the seas around Shetland and develops a complex tool that more accurately demonstrates the links and interactions between the different economic activities and priorities of marine users. It outlines existing constraints, designations and issues that might arise when applying for planning permission or a marine works license.
The work has been undertaken by the marine renewables team at Natural Power, a specialist technical consultancy who have worked on a number of projects in the renewable energy sector globally.
The study was commissioned by Shetland Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, supported by European funding from the `Cradle 2 Cradle Islands' project under the Interreg IVB North Sea Programme.
The study is available to download from the Shetland Islands Council Marine Planning Service Webpage.