TIDAL power developers say they have reached a significant milestone after a prototype turbine ran at full capacity for the first time in the sea off the coast of Orkney.

The device generated electricity capable of powering 1,000 homes during the test at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

The 500-tonne floating tidal turbine, said to be the most powerful in the world, will now be used as the basis for a commercial version which could go into operation at the end of next year.

Scotrenewables Tidal Power Limited’s was put on full power last month after being connected to the electricity grid before Christmas.

A series of phased trials were carried out until the turbine, dubbed the SR2000, produced two megawatts (MW) of power on April 12.

All offshore operations were delivered with small vessels or locally-based workboats.

Andrew Scott, Scotrenewables chief executive, said: “We are tremendously excited to have the SR2000 demonstrating the performance and cost advantages of our floating tidal technology, in line with forecasts, whilst delivering new benchmarks within the tidal sector.

“This performance resets the bar for the costs of delivering tidal power. Achieving this industry milestone is a goal the team at Scotrenewables have worked tirelessly towards for a long time – the credit lies with them for these fantastic achievements.”

Neil Kermode, managing director at EMEC, added: “Everybody at EMEC offers their congratulations to Scotrenewables in reaching peak power on the SR2000. This milestone is testament to years of hard work and dedication shown by the Scotrenewables team.

“It further demonstrates that through dogged, unrelenting innovation tidal energy is getting ever closer to becoming part of our carbon-free energy mix.”

The SR2000, which is also the world’s largest tidal turbine, was launched from the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast in May 2016 before being towed to Orkney.

The company now plans to develop a lower-cost version of the floating machine, which will be rolled out on a commercial basis next year. As well as being used in Scotland, tThe firm is also looking at markets in France, Canada and Asia. Scotrenewables currently The firm employs 26 staff with offices in Orkney and Edinburgh, and has been developing its power-generating technology since 2002. In 2012 it achieved a world first when it exported power to the UK grid from its 250kW floating scale model. Shareholders include DP Energy, Total and the Scottish Government via the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF).

Julien Pouget, senior vice president of Renewables at Total, said: “For Total, contributing to the development of renewable energies is as much a strategic choice as an industrial responsibility.

“As a shareholder of Scotrenewables Tidal Power Limited we are proud to take part in a project that demonstrates how powerful utility scale tidal turbines can be deployed and maintained with low cost, locally based vessels towards a step-change cost reduction for the tidal energy sector.”

The firm’s founder and director, Barry Johnston, said: “After developing the initial concept more than a decade ago, it’s fantastic to now see the latest evolution of the tidal turbine proving it’s low-cost power generation capability onsite connected to the UK national grid.”