Financial Times, January 5, 2013
By Pilita Clark in London
A Singapore company that plants large underwater windmills in the seabed to generate electricity is heading to the London Stock Exchange to raise money in the latest sign of activity in the tidal energy industry.
Atlantis Resources hopes to garner up to £20m from an initial public offering on London’s Aim market, around half of which would fund its flagship MeyGen tidal project on the northern tip of Scotland, one of Europe’s biggest proposed tidal power schemes.
The company initially plans to install four 1.5 megawatt turbines by the second half of 2015, each around 25m in height, to generate power from the rise and fall of the tides between the Scottish mainland and the nearby island of Stroma.
It has approval to put in a total of 86MW of generating capacity in the first phase of the scheme, enough to power 42,000 Scottish homes each year, but hopes to eventually install far more.
The tidal energy industry is still immature compared with the wind and solar power sectors that have boomed in the past decade as countries have started subsidising renewable energy to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.
However, a number of big engineering companies, including Siemens of Germany and France’s Alstom, have started snapping up smaller tidal groups over the past two years, amid forecasts that tidal energy will eventually become a far more popular form of renewable power.
Tides can be accurately predicted years in advance, unlike wind and sunshine, and commercial tidal energy schemes are expected to grow from a handful of small projects today to about 170MW of generating capacity by 2020, mostly in Europe, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance research group.
This is likely to depend on how fast the tidal power industry can reduce its costs, which are far higher than many other forms of low-carbon power.
Atlantis is working on tidal power projects in several countries, including Canada, France and China, but its chief executive, Tim Cornelius, said the financial support offered by the British government had put the UK at the forefront of the industry.
“The UK has led the way and now you see Canada, France and these sorts of places effectively taking all the good bits out of the UK’s policies and applying them in their own domestic environments,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Tidal power companies will get a “strike price” of £305 per megawatt hour under the UK’s latest renewable energy financial support scheme, nearly double the £155 MWh for offshore wind farms and triple the £95 MWh for onshore wind projects.