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Harland and Wolff hails £2m tidal turbine coup

Harland & Wolff has won a contract to build the test version of a cutting edge new tidal energy turbine.

Scotrenewables (Marine Power) Ltd, which is based in the Orkney Islands, has picked the Belfast manufacturer to build the prototype of its 30 metre-long, 250 kilowatt tidal turbine, which weighs in at 80 tonnes.

The company did not reveal the value of the deal but industry sources believe it could be worth £2m.

The prototype will be manufactured in Belfast before being deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre test facility in the Orkneys.

Scotrenewables' project leader Mark Hamilton said: "We have chosen Harland & Wolff to construct the SR250 prototype because of their outstanding pedigree in the field of ship-building, offshore oil and gas and more recently offshore renewables.

"Their project support to date has been extremely valuable and we look forward to completing construction at their facilities by the end of this year."

He added: "This stage of the project is particularly exciting as after years of successful numerical and physical model testing and development we have now placed an order for the full-scale device. There is a lot of hard work left to do in proving the long-term viability of our technology, but testing to date has produced very promising results. The market for our technology both in the UK and worldwide is huge - we aim to be at the forefront of the future tidal energy industry."

Harland and Wolff manufacturing manager Trevor McCormick said the company was delighted to be involved in the project.

"We have a strong track record in the marine renewables sector and understand the importance of this prototype and the trust that Scotrenewables are placing in us. We look forward to working with them and seeing the prototype prove itself," he said.

Scotrenewables founder Barry Johnston started the company in his parents' garage with just the idea for the free floating turbine, which comprises two 8m diameter rotors.

East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said the contract was good news for the local economy.

"East Belfast has a proud industrial heritage which will be safeguarded by this type of project," he said.

"This contract shows the potential that Northern Ireland has to capitalise on work involving the green economy. I would like to see a Green New Deal strategy implemented for the region to help harness this potential and create new jobs."