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Could Tidal Energy be the Future for Charging Electric Cars in Scotland?

David Paul


Tidal Energy

The island of Yell has begun utilising the tech to charge its cars, pushing Scotland towards its target of net-zero emissions by 2045.

Cars in the Shetland Islands are now being powered by tidal turbines in a first for Scotland’s push towards a low-carbon future.

Tidal turbine technology is feeding directly into an electric vehicle charge point on the island, allowing for cars to charge fully using wave power.

Manufacturer Nova Innovation is supplying the tech that it says will not visually impact the landscape or pose a navigation hazard, whilst offering “long-term and accurate” predictability when it comes to powering Shetland’s electricity grid.

Yell’s Nova project has received grant funding through Transport Scotland to install the EV charging infrastructure as part of the clean energy transition.

Commenting on the new tidal-powered charging points, Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said: “It’s fantastic to see that Nova Innovation is demonstrating yet again that Scotland remains at the forefront of developments in zero-emission transport solutions.

“I’m pleased that Scottish Government funding is enabling the installation of a new charge point in Shetland which operates entirely on renewable tidal energy.

“This type of innovation is key in responding to the global climate emergency and highlights the opportunities that can be realised here in Scotland as we transition to a net-zero economy.”

In its drive towards becoming a net-zero nation, the Scottish Government will ban the sale of new cars powered solely by petrol or diesel by 2032. This has accelerated the need to develop new sources of clean energy to power vehicles.

Last year, Scotland produced the equivalent 97.4% of its electricity from renewable energy sources in 2020, just missing out on its target to use 100% renewable energy by the end of the year.

The next target to reach will be in 2030, when Scotland aims to provide 50% of its energy demand for electricity, along with heat and transport, from renewables. Electric vehicles are set to become a large part of this transition.


In October last year, a project by Heriot-Watt University, Flexible Power Systems (FPS) and the City of Edinburgh Council was awarded £1.6 million in funding to explore the benefits of wireless electric vehicle charging in Edinburgh.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also confirmed a drive towards electric vehicle adoption across the UK with a £12-million funding boost as part of government plans for a ‘green economic recovery’ in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, at this stage, electric vehicle technology still leaves a lot to be desired. New, faster-charging tech is currently in development, but currently, the lack of charging points and long wait times means electric vehicles are untenable for most road users.

An investigation in early March by Which? highlighted serious failings across Britain’s public electric vehicle charging networks, which the organisation said could harm the adoption of electric vehicles.

The study found that many motorists “cannot easily use” charging networks, many of which are operated by a host of different providers.

Which? also said that motorists are forced to contend with a “bewildering array of sub-standard” apps and payment methods, with many drivers facing unnecessarily expensive charges.

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David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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