Following a comprehensive selection process Tidal Ventures chose Torr Head as its preferred location from the regions made available in the Offshore Leasing Round by The Crown Estate at which to investigate the development of an underwater tidal array.

Tidal Ventures has been awarded an Agreement for Lease (AfL) giving us exclusive rights to investigate the development of a commercial scale 100 MW tidal energy array in the waters offshore of Torr Head on the north coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland. The award forms part of Northern Ireland’s Offshore Renewable Energy Strategic Action Plan (ORESAP). The Crown Estate selected Tidal Ventures as we have proven our ability and resources to be able to deliver the project, we have demonstrated a strategy for successfully achieving consent and we have an impeccable health and safety record.

Another joint venture was awarded an Agreement for Lease (AfL) in the autumn of 2012 to investigate a similar sized scheme offshore of Fair Head.

Why Torr Head?

Torr Head was selected as our preferred site and was the only site we applied for due to the following reasons:

  • Its strong tidal resource
  • Its suitable seabed and oceanographic conditions
  • The opening of a suitable leasing round by The Crown Estate

The area offshore of Torr Head is one of five zones highlighted by the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Offshore Wind and Marine Renewable Energy in Northern Ireland which provides a high level assessment of the suitability of offshore areas for marine renewable development.

The Tidal Ventures Project Team extensively analysed each zone, and chose the Torr Head location. The analysis included assessment of:

Tidal velocities: the speed and volume of water passing through the site

Bathymetry: the water depth and geology of the seabed to determine the best position and number of turbines to be deployed

Navigational risk: ensuring the location is appropriate so that turbines will not interfere with navigational traffic

Environmental constraints: Understanding the relative position of the AfL with respect to key designations and ecological receptors

Testing & research

OpenHydro has been testing the Open-Centre Turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) since 2006. To date, no marine life incidents have been recorded. EMEC, based in Orkney, is the first and only centre of its kind in the world to provide developers of both wave and tidal technologies with purpose built, accredited open-sea testing facilities.

OpenHydro has amassed considerable knowledge of the behaviour of their technology in the marine environment, from EMEC and other development projects. The data suggests that the risks to wildlife from this technology are low. This research includes:

  • Underwater noise surveying and modelling
  • Marine mammal collision risk modelling
  • Fish behavioural ecology

Project Timeline

The Crown Estate's AfL provides Tidal Ventures with exclusive rights to investigate the development of a tidal energy array within the lease area for a period of five years. During this time Tidal Ventures will endeavour to complete all of the necessary consenting activities required to submit applications

for permission to construct the project. Tidal Ventures is committed to engaging with all local community stakeholders, elected representatives and any other interested parties for the duration of the project, as well as ensuring an extensive consultation process throughout.

Seeing the bigger picture

Tidal Ventures is committed to ensuring local community and fisheries' involvement and collaboration in the project. There are several distinct project stages and we aim to both communicate with and employ locals where possible, at each relevant stage.

During the course of this project, we expect to create a number of direct and indirect jobs. In the longer term, this project has the potential to create a significantly higher number of jobs. In addition to having regular meetings with fishery groups and organisations, we have also appointed a Fisheries' Industry Representative. His role will be to ensure that there is always a two way flow of information between Tidal Ventures and key marine users in the area. The Fisheries' Industry Representative will keep the local fishing community informed about any planned activities and ensure minimum disruption is caused throughout the duration of the project.

Linking electricity to the grid

The electricity generated will be carried from the turbines via a subsea cable. Once discussions with Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) and System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) have concluded, the most appropriate location for cable landfall and connection to the national grid will be identified. Tidal Ventures will work closely with local communities and any other persons or group who may be affected. Any proposals will be subject to an EIA and the appropriate consent and licence approvals.