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Tidal power progress

Posted Mon 23rd May 2011 at 10:59

Alderney's aim to become energy reliant on tidal turbines has taken a major step forward.

Tidal power developer Alderney Renewable Energy has signed a deal to lease Fort Albert from the States and is now working on halving islanders' electricity bills by 2018.

The project involves housing a turbine pump house and reservoir at the fort. Stored water will be released from the reservoir through a hydro-turbine and used to generate 90 per cent of the island's electricity. The water is then returned to the sea.

The scheme, which could be launched in 2012, will also be linked to a bio-diesel peaking plant, allowing the generation of 100 per cent sustainable electricity for Alderney.

ARE's chief executive Paul Clark said: "This is an extremely exciting project for Alderney. We have completed two vital steps - securing planning permission onshore and signing the agreement to lease Fort Albert, where the onshore works will be located. We hope to sign a power purchase agreement with Alderney Electricity within the next six weeks.

"Alderney currently relies on diesel-generated electricity, which with the rising price of oil has risen to around 30p per unit. We believe this project has the potential to halve the retail price of electricity in real terms within eight years."

Policy and Finance Committee chairman John Beaman welcomed the agreement.

Mr Beaman said: "I think everyone is pleased that it could lead to some stability in terms of energy prices. We're also pleased that Alderney will be at the cutting edge of under sea technology.

"The trouble with oil is that we're tied to the price - there's no way round it. If prices go up we pay more. There's no alternative on the horizon at the moment, apart from ARE's proposals."

Mr Beaman also said he hoped the project would lead to consistent electricity bills for islanders.

ARE, which was granted exclusive access to half of Alderney's territorial waters for 65 years in 2008, has begun a full environmental impact assessment to obtain marine consent from the Alderney Commission for Renewable Energy - the States body set up to monitor ARE and other green energy companies.

Mr Clark said there was still work to be done before the project starts.

"We have a few more significant steps to take before we can begin generation: conclusion of the power purchase agreement, the environmental impact assessment and a final agreement with a tidal turbine manufacturer. We are talking to two potential suppliers.

"Our ambition is for the project to become operational in 2012, subject to the availability of turbines."

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