ORBITAL Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, has started grid connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.
The floating turbine is anchored in the Fall of Warness where a subsea cable connects the 2MW offshore unit to the local onshore electricity network.
Manufactured and launched in Dundee earlier in the year before being towed up to Orkney, the O2 is Orbital’s first commercial turbine and represents the culmination of more than 15 years of world leading 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 clean, predictable power from the fast-flowing waters. In a further ground-breaking element of the project, the O2 is to provide power to an onshore electrolyser to generate green hydrogen that will be used to demonstrate decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.
Orbital chief executive 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.
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy Michael Matheson of Scottish Government 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.”
Orbital is now setting its sights on commercialising its technology through the deployment of multi-MW arrays.
Fabrice Leveque, head of policy at WWF Scotland said: “It’s great to see tidal technology being used to help decarbonise Scotland’s energy sector.
“We are well placed to continue to lead in developing this technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create skilled, green jobs.
“Our islands have an abundance of renewable resources, including wind, tidal and solar, which when harnessed with care, could bring multiple economic and social benefits to remote and rural communities across Scotland.
“We need to scale up use of these resources for heating and transport to urgently cut climate emissions, and ahead of COP26 in Glasgow we’d like to see the Scottish Government bring forward new policies and funding to make this happen.”
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