Island Community Invests in Tidal Energy

Photo credit: Nova Innovation

Construction of the world’s first community-owned tidal power plant is moving towards fruition on the northernmost UK Shetland island of Yell. Built by Nova Innovation, the grid-connected, 30-megawatt (MW) tidal power generator is expected to be installed in the waters of Bluemull Sound between Yell and the neighboring island of Unst, where strong, persistent tidal flows assure a ready supply of tidal energy.

One of Europe’s most remote communities, Yell is the second largest island in the Shetland island chain and has a population of 950. The tidal power plant will generate electricity for a local ice plant and industrial estate, according to this report from The Scotsman.

Viewed as something of a gamble by local government and community leaders, it could pay off handsomely, not only in terms of generating clean, renewable electrical power locally as opposed to having to import it, but in terms of anchoring the local economy.

“It is a leap into the unknown. I wouldn’t say it is a gamble but it is certifiably not like dealing with wind turbines,” Alan Nisbet, secretary of the North Yell Development Council told The Scotsman’s Frank Urquhart.

“The potential could be enormous if this small scheme works for our community. And I am sure other coastal communities, particularly down the west of Scotland, could also benefit. There are lot of small islands and quite a lot of them have strong tides.”

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email:

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