The 1MW HS1000 tidal turbine, developed by Norway’s Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, was installed in the fast-flowing waters around Orkney last December. It has now successfully completed a range of tests, and is supplying electricity to the island of Eday, one of Orkney’s northern isles.

The test device in Orkney aims to fully prove that the technology can operate efficiently in Scotland’s fast flowing tides, that monitoring and maintenance operations can be honed and to help drive down costs in operations and installation.

The technology will be used by Iberdrola-owned ScottishPower Renewables as part of the “world’s first” tidal turbine array in the Sound of Islay. The company’s proposal for a 10MW tidal array received planning consent from the Scottish government in March 2011.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables said: “The concept of generating electricity from the natural movement of the tide is still relatively new – and test projects like this are vital to help us understand how we can fully realise the potential of this substantial energy source.“

He added: “The performance of the first HS1000 device has given us great confidence so far. Engineers were able install the device during atrocious weather conditions, and it has been operating to a very high standard ever since. We have already greatly developed our understanding of tidal power generation, and this gives us confidence ahead of implementing larger scale projects in Islay and the Pentland Firth.”

Based on a mixture of technology used in traditional onshore wind turbines, subsea oil & gas production and in hydro-power plants, a prototype device has been generating electricity in Norway for over six years.

Stein Atle Andersen, managing director of Andritz Hydro Hammerfest said: “The 1MW pre-commercial device is an important step in our staged strategy for developing reliable and cost efficient tidal energy converting devices and power plants. The tests being carried out so far have confirmed the design basis for the technology and given comfort concerning the device’s capacity.”

He added: “We are still early in the testing programme with endurance, availability and reliability being the most imminent factors for asserting a proper basis for developing commercial tidal energy power plants. However, we are already well into design engineering for the first power plant.”