Rapid technological advances in tidal energy technology have allowed Scottish Power to make plans for construction of what it calls ‘the world’s largest tidal energy installations’.

Scottish Power, a unit of Spain’s Iberdrola, is to install three tidal energy farms off Scotland and Northern Ireland with a combined capacity of up to 60 MW. The installations will use the Lànstrøm tidal turbine and could start delivering power in 2011.

“It is an historic day for the development of tidal energy,” said Keith Anderson, director of Scottish Power Renewables. “The rapid technological advances in tidal energy have enabled us to make plans for this significant project.” The announcement follows news from Iberdrola that the first wave energy unit at its pilot wave energy plant in Santoña, Spain, has been deployed.

The sites identified for the tidal projects include Pentland Firth and the Sound of Islay in Scotland, and North Antrim in Northern Ireland. Scottish Power Renewables plans to submit planning applications to the Scottish government and Northern Ireland Assembly in mid-2009.

Each of the locations will be equipped with between five and 20 Lànstrøm turbine units, which have a capacity of 1 MW. The Lànstrøm turbine is the most advanced tidal turbine in the world and has passed an exhaustive four-year testing period in Norway, says Iberdrola.

The device, developed by Hammerfest Strøm AS, will undergo some final tests in conditions specific to the Scottish coast before deployment in these projects. Scottish Power Renewables, StatoilHydro and Hammerfest Energi are the co-owners of Hammerfest Strøm.

The projects are part of plans by Iberdrola Renovables rapidly to increase its renewable energy portfolio. Its 2008-2012 strategic plan targets investments of EUR18.8 billion to reach 18 000 MW of installed capacity by the end of 2012.

The Santoña wave energy installation is another key project for the company and the recent deployment of the first PowerBuoy unit is the latest milestone in the construction of the world’s first commercial utility-scale wave project.

Santoña is expected eventually to consist of ten PowerBuoy units, which have been developed and supplied by USA-based Ocean Power Technologies. The first PowerBuoy unit will supply the Spanish grid with 1.39 MW of electricity.