Case study

Scottish Power Renewables


Following approval from the Scottish Government, Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) will be starting work on the world's first tidal array in the Sound of Islay, between the islands of Islay and Jura off the west coast of Scotland. The £40 million, 10 Megawatt development will generate enough electricity for over 5,000 homes.

The success of the project will be dependent on selecting the best locations for these 10 turbines. Some areas of the Sound have higher flow speeds than others, which will result in greater energy yields and hence greater revenue. However, the turbines need to be well spaced-out to avoid the adverse effects of wake interactions. Moreover, the various existing models and measurements of the site had substantial uncertainty, making the layout design even more challenging and reducing confidence in energy yield predictions.



We built a sophisticated 3D CFD model of the flow through the Sound to understand the spatial variability of the resource. All existing measurements and models were reviewed, many of which contained questionable or contradictory data, to help develop an understanding of the resource and to validate the new model. We also modelled the turbines that SPR plans to use at the site to understand the magnitude and extent of the wake effects. The models were then combined to optimise the position of the turbines and maximise the energy yield, taking into account bathymetric and geophysical constraints. Data from the flow provided an estimate of the Annual Energy Production from the array and an understanding of the environmental loading on the turbines.


The study provided the client with valuable information about the layout of the array, the energy yield that they could expect and the loads to which the turbines would be subjected. This represented substantial de-risking of the project, bolstering the business case for SPR's own investment and supporting applications for external funding.

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