First power is flowing from the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, Orbital Marine Power’s O2, striking a light for the next phase of the development of the global marine renewables sector.
The 2MW device – a 73-metre-long ‘ocean-riding’ design featuring a pair of hinged 16-metre-diameter turbines that can be raised or lowered to simplify transport, installation and maintenance – will be able to single-handedly generate enough clean-power to supply 2,000 UK homes, offsetting 2,200 tonnes of CO2 a year.
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.”
Installed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland, the O2 was manufactured and launched in Dundee earlier in the year before being towed up to the test site, where it is expected to operate for the next 15 years.
The project will now feature another pioneering element, providing power to an onshore electrolyser to generate green hydrogen that will be used “to demonstrate decarbonisation of wider energy requirements”.
The construction of the O2 turbine was underwritten by public lenders through ethical investment platform Abundance Investment, along with £3.4m ($4.7m) in funding from the Scottish government’s Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
Scotland’s cabinet secretary for net zero and energy Michael Matheson stated: “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.
“The deployment of the O2 is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero.”
Orbital plans to commercialise the technology through multi-megawatt arrays. “We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come,” said Scott.
Estimates of the size and speed of the potential wave and tidal energy roll-out around the world range widely. Ocean Energy Europe , the industry’s representative body in EU, is forecasting 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, meeting 10% of member states’ power demand