Scotland injects over $4m to launch 2MW Orbital tidal turbine

Flagship O2 unit, first technology to win government Saltire Fund backing, to float out next year

Tidal power pioneer Orbital Marine Power has landed £3.4m ($4.2m) in funding from the Scottish government to progress its 2MW O2 turbin design to market.

The award, given through the £10m Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund, adds to Orbital’s warchest after the Orkney-based developer completed a £7m crowd-funding drive earlier this year shepherded by UK ethical investment company Abundance.

The flagship unit will be manufactured by Scottish company Texo Group at new quayside facilities in Dundee, with key componentry delivered by compatriot contractor Gray Fabrication using material from Liberty Steel.

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“We believe tidal energy technology can not only play an important role in our own future energy system, but it has substantial export potential and this fund will help move tidal technologies closer to commercial deployment,” said Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse.

“We are delighted this landmark turbine, designed by an innovative Scottish company, will also be built in Scotland.”

Orbital CEO Andrew, Scott added: “We greatly appreciate the Scottish government’s ongoing commitment and support for tidal stream energy, and this award will enable us to deliver a truly exciting and transformational project and continue the proud tradition of Scottish innovation and engineering.”

The company’s ocean-riding O2 design – which measures 73-metre-long and features a pair of hinged 16-metre-diameter turbines that can be raised or lowered to simplify transport, installation and maintenance – is to be deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland’s Orkney Islands next year.

Following years of industrial struggle, the tidal power sector appears to be gathering momentum, with Normandie Hydrolienne – a joint venture between Simec Atlantis Energy, regional development agency AD Normandie Développement and investment fund Normandie Participations – in November finalising plans to develop a “multi-hundred-megawatt” plant off the west coast of France that would be Europe’s first commercial-scale project.

According to 2016 forecasts from industry advocacy body Ocean Energy Europe, the marine renewables sector could see 100GW of tidal and wave capacity built off Europe by 2050, supplying 10% of the EU’s current electricity demand.

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