Amazon test for Caithness-made renewable hydrokinetic turbine vertical axis

A Scottish engineering company is to demonstrate a renewable power turbine designed for slow-flowing stretches of the Amazon River in Brazil.

MTDS is based in Achlibster in Caithness, close to the Pentland Firth where marine energy devices are to be installed as part of a major project.

A full-scale prototype weighing almost 50 tonnes will be built by MTDS for the 12-month trial on the Amazon. Power is generated by using vertical rotors similar to revolving doors.

MTDS said the Amazon was selected in partnership with an energy-related organisation in Brazil. After operational and environmental monitoring, the project partner will retain the rights to license the device in Brazil, while MTDS tries to market it elsewhere.

James Mowat said: "There is huge potential for riverside villages and towns without access to sufficient power.

"Prime markets range from Chile and Uruguay, through China, India and Russia." He said a scale model turbine had performed successfully in controlled trails. Twenty-four staff at MTDS will take three months to complete the full-scale version.

Mr Mowat said: "Further turbines for distant countries are likely to be built closer to their installation sites but we can build them here, for use in Britain and Europe, at the rate of between 12 to 24 units a year, creating major new local employment."

Closer to the company’s premises, devices are to be installed to harness the energy of waves and fast moving tidal currents.

On Tuesday, the Crown Estate announced that 10 sites on the seabed off the north coast of Scotland had been leased out to power companies which will put the devices in place.

In the first project of its kind in the world, areas in the Pentland Firth and around Orkney were leased to seven companies. The companies are to push forward plans to generate enough electricity to supply 750,000 homes by 2020.