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Fri September 17 2021

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Powerful tidal turbine comes on stream

28 Jul What is believed to be the world’s most powerful tidal turbine has started exporting electricity.

Orbital Marine Power’s O2 tidal turbine has begun grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.

The innovative, floating turbine is anchored in the Fall of Warness where a subsea cable connects the 2MW offshore unit to the local onshore electricity network.

The O2 was manufactured and launched in Dundee earlier this year before being towed up to Orkney. It is Orbital’s first commercial turbine and represents the culmination of more than 15 years of product development in the UK.

The 74m-long turbine is expected to operate in the waters off Orkney for the next 15 years with the capacity to meet the annual electricity demand of around 2,000 UK homes with predictable power from the fast-flowing waters.

In a further element of the project, the O2 is to provide power to EMEC’s onshore electrolyser to generate ‘green’ hydrogen that will be used to demonstrate decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.

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Orbital CEO Andrew Scott said: “This is a major milestone for the O2 and I would like to commend the whole team at Orbital and our supply chain for delivering this pioneering renewable energy project safely and successfully. Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector.”

The construction of the O2 turbine was enabled by public lenders through the ethical investment platform, Abundance Investment, as well as being supported by the Scottish government by the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund. The O2 project has been supported through funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the FloTEC project and the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg North West Europe Programme under the ITEG project.

The Scottish government’s cabinet secretary for net zero and energy, Michael Matheson, said: “With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally-placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy. That’s why the Scottish government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years, including through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge fund, which provided £3.4m for this project.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero. I congratulate Orbital Marine, the European Marine Energy Centre and everyone who has made this achievement possible.”

Orbital is now setting its sights on commercialising its technology through the deployment of multi-MW arrays.

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