One of Scotland's most innovative energy developers is asking the public to suggest a name for a multi-million pound device that generates electricity from the sea.
Orkney-based Scotrenewables, is pioneering the development of technology which harnesses energy from tidal currents. The seas around the Pentland Firth and Orkney Islands are recognised as some of Europe's best locations for wave and tidal power developments.
The company has attracted substantial backing from energy giant Total and from Fred Olsen Renewables, which has invested £6.2million in the project. Now the firm is launching a competition to help find a name that best reflects the machine's capabilities and its roots in islands with a rich nautical heritage.
“Finding the right name is really important to us,” said Scotrenewables managing director Barry Johnston. “We hope people will be keen to get involved in a project that's all about generating clean, sustainable energy from the seas around us.
“Living in Orkney we're well aware of the enormous challenges involved in drawing on the power of the sea. A huge amount of effort has gone into the development of our tidal turbine and, while there's still a lot of work to be done, the sea trials have been very encouraging.
“Our company like Orkney with its Viking heritage has strong links with Norway as well as Scotland. We're looking for a name that perhaps reflects that pedigree and the machine's ability to harness energy from the tides which have always had such a powerful impact on island life.”
Calum Davidson, head of key industries with economic development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said: “Companies such as Scotrenewables working at this level clearly demonstrate the strategic importance of the Highlands and Islands to the future of the UK and European energy industry. Our agency is working with partners to make this region the world leader in renewable technology and we wish Scotrenewables all the best in their bid to get a name to fit the stature of their achievements.”
The one-fifth-scale prototype has been undergoing trials in the waters of Scapa Flow.
“We're encouraged with the way it's performed,” said Mark Hamilton, Scotrenewables' project manager. “The results are very encouraging and show that a single full-size version would comfortably generate one megawatt (MW) of electricity, sufficient to meet the needs of around 750 homes.
“We wanted to create something that's easy to build and cheap to maintain. That's why it floats on the surface unlike most other proposed tidal turbines, which are attached to the seabed. We're convinced it'll be competitive with offshore wind turbines and will be the most cost-effective tidal power machine on the market.”
Shipping magnate Fred Olsen said they looked at a number of marine energy projects before deciding that the Scotrenewables turbine stood the best chance of success. He is in regular contact with the Orkney company as they trial the smaller-scale prototype.
“It is important to come up with the right name for a device that will spend its life in the swirling tide,” said Mr Olsen, chairman of the Fred Olsen Group. “It is a long standing maritime tradition and a competition will be a fun way to find a name that best suits this particular seagoing technology.”
The company is asking people to submit suggestions and is promising a generous prize to whoever comes up with the most appropriate name. Suggestions of an appropriate name should be sent to the company at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scotrenewables was set up in 2002 and now employs 19 staff.