Tidal energy is a form of renewable energy that has the potential to provide safe and clean power to local communities and businesses in a way that is efficient and sensitive to the environment.

How does it work?

Tidal streams are created by the constantly changing gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the world's oceans. Tides never stop, with water moving first one way, then the other, the world over. In certain areas geographic features such as headlands or channels serve to accelerate this movement of water. Since the relative positions of the sun and moon can be predicted with complete accuracy, so can the resultant tide and the electricity it can generate. It is this predictability that makes tidal energy such a valuable resource.

The development of the Torr Head tidal array will be approximately an eight year project and is the first of its kind in and around the island of Ireland. The turbines will be totally submerged, making them silent and invisible. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.

Tidal array planning

The Torr Head region has been selected as an area where a collection of tidal turbines may be deployed within a restricted space. Currently we anticipate deployment on a phased basis over three years (30MW to start in 2018 and 100MW to be completed by 2020), subject to securing the relevant licences and planning permissions.

The exact turbine type for the site has yet to be decided, but the OpenHydro Open-Centre Turbine is what we have based our proposal on. It is anticipated that the Open-Centre Turbine will be used if proven to be the most technically and commercially viable for the site.

What are the benefits?

We believe the ultimate renewable solution will depend on a blend of renewable technologies such as tidal, wind, wave and solar working together. Tidal will play a significant part in this mix given the predictable nature of the energy and the size of the resource.

The particular benefits of tidal include:

  • Energy is produced from a resource that is entirely predictable.
  • Tidal turbines are located beneath the ocean surface and cannot be seen or heard, allowing for adequate clearance above the tidal energy array to avoid navigational traffic.
  • Water is 830 times denser than air meaning that, for a given electricity output, tidal turbines can be much smaller than equivalent wind turbines.

The Crown Estate (TCE)

The Crown Estate is a diverse property business that manages more than half the foreshore and almost all of the seabed around the UK. Valued at more than £8 billion, its portfolio includes commerical and retail properties such as agricultural land, parkland, forestry, shopping centres, business parks, farms and housing.

The Crown Estate awarded an Agreement for Lease (AfL) to the Tidal Ventures project in October 2012. The two tidal development sites which were awarded AfL's by TCE in October are the first of their kind in Northern Ireland. If the relevant licences and permissions are granted, the Tidal Ventures project is expected to be completed by 2020.