A scheme aiming to be the world's largest tidal power project has started to generate electricity.

The first turbine of the MeyGen project in the Pentland Firth, off the north coast of Scotland, was successfully installed last week and has begun producing its first power, developer Atlantis Resources announced.

Bosses expect a further three 1.5 megawatt (MW) tidal stream turbines to be installed at the site by the end of this year in an initial 6MW phase.

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They hope the project - which has received £23 million in Scottish Government funding - will eventually have 269 turbines, bringing its capacity to 398 MW - enough electricity to power 175,000 homes.

Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Edinburgh-based Atlantis, said: "This is the moment we have been working towards since we first identified the MeyGen site back in 2007 and I am immensely proud of and grateful for the remarkable team of people who have contributed to this milestone.

"The success of this first phase is a foundation for the tidal industry to build upon to ensure we develop a new energy sector which can deliver clean, predictable and affordable power from the UK's own abundant resources."

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The tidal energy farm was launched in September at a ceremony at the Nigg Energy Park, outside Inverness, attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

It was hailed at the time as a "significant moment" which shows the UK driving innovation in the renewables sector.

Responding to the development, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "News of the first electricity to come from what will hopefully become one of the world's largest tidal power schemes is a really exciting moment. Well done to all those involved.

"Coming only a few months after turbines off Shetland generated their first power, it's a sign that Scotland is really starting to make progress in harnessing the power of our seas.

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"Along with action to improve energy efficiency, marine renewables have the potential to play a role in powering our homes and businesses in the future."

Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, said: "The Pentland Firth is one of the most promising tidal energy sites in the world and it's testament to Atlantis' determination that it's now being tapped into.

"Tidal energy has huge global potential and projects like this show Scotland is leading the way in the sector's development.

"With the latest auction round for power contracts recently announced by the UK Government, it's crucial that developers like MeyGen see a long-term path to realising this potential."