As countries around the world increasingly embrace electric vehicles, charging is top of mind. In Scotland, the island of Yell is powering its EVs with tidal energy.
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Nova Innovation has built an underwater network of revolving tidal turbines anchored to the ocean floor. You can’t see them from above, and they’re designed to pose no navigational hazards. One thing is for sure about Yell — there’s plenty of ocean around it, so this is a predicable power source for the island’s grid.
At 83 square miles, Yell is the second largest of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Sheep outnumber the 966 inhabitants by about 10 to one. The underwater turbines have already been powering houses and businesses on Yell for the last five years.
“We now have the reality of tidal powered cars, which demonstrates the huge steps forward we are making in tackling the climate emergency and achieving net-zero by working in harmony with our natural environment,” said Simon Forrest, Nova Innovation’s CEO.
Scotland has long been a global renewable energy leader. The blustery country has harnessed enough wind to power a country twice its size. Its first tidal energy farm launched in 2016, and by 2020, it had more underwater turbines than any other country.
The new tidal turbine charging station is a first. Forrest says this technology can be deployed around the world. Because traditional combustion engines in vehicles produce about one-fifth of U.K. carbon emissions, underwater turbines could be key in meeting emission reduction goals. More tidal turbines could be coming soon, as the Scottish government has banned the sale of new cars powered solely by diesel or gas by 2032.
Marine scientists are still assessing the effects on wildlife. According to Andrea Copping with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, animals colliding with the turbines could be bruised but probably not killed. Compared to other coastal energy endeavors, such as offshore oil drilling, the threat from underwater turbines seems low.
Image via Leo Roomets