The Orkney islands are on the verge of a green energy revolution that could transform their economy.
Already a world leader in marine renewables, as technology marches forward to commercial viability it is hoped a whole new industry could be born, boosting jobs and income for the region.
The islands have always relied on the land and sea to make their living but now more than ever harnessing the power of nature is the key to future prosperity.
The islands already generate more power than they use from onshore wind turbines but it is what is happening beneath the waves that promises to spawn a whole new industry.
The European Marine Energy Centre on the islands is recognised for its green energy expertise.
Neil Kermode, from the centre, said: “A fifth of the UK’s electricity supply could come from wave and tidal and a huge proportion of that is going to come from Orkney. I’ve seen studies which show we could generate four or five megawatts of power around these islands.
“As a commercial product it could be huge.”
Alan Mortimer, ScottishPower Renewables said: “We plan to start work at our Isla project next year. That will be ten tidal devices - possibly the first in the world - and that then will give us the information we need for wide-scale deployment. There’s no doubt the potential is huge.”
Orkney Islands council has embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade three ports at a cost of more than £11,5m with quayside facilities being improved for wave and tidal developments.
Council convenor Steven Heddle said: “We’ve had the benefit in the past from the North Sea oil boom and we’re reinvesting some of the money that we earned from that in this for the future of Orkney and we can already see there is benefit in the form of the hundreds of people estimated to be employed in this.”