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Whisky from beneath the waves

A single malt made using seawater doesn’t immediately sound like a fantastic proposition… until you realise that ‘using seawater’ refers to powering a group of Islay distilleries with clean, renewable energy generated by the tides around the island.

We recently signed an option agreement with Nova Innovation Ltd, which plans to install a 3MW tidal array in the waters off Islay as part of its Oran na Mara project – Gaelic for ‘song of the sea’. Oran na Mara would deliver energy to the island, reducing the need for local fossil fuel use. Nova has operated a similar scheme at Bluemull Sound in Shetland since 2016.

Nova Innovation's 'Eunice' model turbine
Nova Innovation's 'Eunice' model turbine

Tidal power offers something different from other forms of renewables, which deliver a lot of energy, but in variable amounts based on the strength of the wind or sunlight at the time. Because the movement of the tides is predictable and consistent, it means that the electricity we can generate from tidal turbines is too. When a portion of our renewable power arrives like clockwork, no matter the  weather, it makes our whole renewable energy system more dependable.

This project provides a great example of how a local energy system might work, and it’s the kind of thing we hope to see more of around Scottish waters in the coming years. Not only will local energy systems help the country to reduce emissions and hit our target of net zero by 2045, they will also grow Scotland’s blue economy – creating new opportunities for local supply chains to help build and maintain them.

You can read Nova's press release on the story here for more information.