Navigant Research Blog

Scotland Exemplifies European Energy Transition with Tidal Generation

Paige Leuschner — September 26, 2016

Energy CloudImagine a landscape dotted with wind turbines and homes supporting rooftop solar—that’s what  I noticed during a recent trip to Scotland. What I couldn’t see was power being exported to the grid through offshore tidal stations. Nova Innovation has succeeded in deploying the world’s first fully operational array of tidal power turbines in the Bluemull Sound, which are now successfully feeding electricity to local Shetland homes. The project began in March 2016, when the first in a series of three turbines was deployed. When the second turbine was deployed and activated in late August 2016, the project became the first offshore tidal array in the world to actually deliver electricity to the grid.

Scotland has had its fair share of failed attempts in the marine power industry, including the collapse of two wave power companies, Pelarmis and Aquamarine. However, the country has some of the most powerful tides in Europe, and Nova Innovation’s achievement shows promise for further development of tidal power as a renewable generation source.

Energy Transformation

Scotland’s recent success in tidal generation also highlights the region’s dedication to distributed energy resources (DER), renewables, and adapting to a transforming energy industry. A recent series of blogs highlights Europe as a region helping to lead the way in a changing energy environment, and arguably transitioning faster than anywhere else in the world. The megatrends that are revolutionizing the way power is produced and used in Europe include shifting power-generating resources to renewables, new market entrants focused on investing in renewables, DER, and energy management, and the power of consumer choice as demands change among customers who want to control their electricity usage and decide what power to purchase.

Navigant expects DER to grow more than 5 times faster than new central station generation in the next 10 years in Europe; its uptake is anticipated to be widespread and one of the most disruptive factors affecting the grid. Additionally, utility-scale and distributed renewables are expected to account for 50%-100% of generation, with net new capacity currently reaching virtually 100% renewables.

Europe is a vibrant and fertile market for DER and renewables, from small generation pilots in Scotland, to cities like Copenhagen and Munich committing to 100% clean energy, to growing carbon emissions reductions policies and regulations that affect the entire European Union. This is a region dedicated to transitioning in a changing energy environment, and it’s worth following along as its energy future develops.

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