7th December 2021
The world’s most powerful tidal turbine, built by Scottish tidal stream turbine manufacturer Orbital Marine Power, has begun exporting power to the UK grid, delivering an important milestone for the tidal marine industry.
The 2MW O2 tidal turbine is located at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) at Scotland’s Orkney islands, anchored in the Fall of Warness tidal test site.
Measuring in at 74-metres and benefiting from some of the strongest tidal currents in the world, the O2 tidal turbine is expected to run for the next 15 years, generating enough electricity to meet the annual demand of around 2,000 homes.
“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,” said Andrew Scott, Orbital CEO.
“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.”
Tidal power has been one of the junior renewable energy technologies for a while now, showing tremendous potential but falling prey to the success of more established technologies like wind and solar, which has attracted most of the available investment capital needed to scale up.
Tidal power turbines are anchored to the sea- or riverbed and use the regular shifting of the tides to turn its turbines. They can use tidal streams or river currents – which present a potentially inexhaustible source of energy generation, and tides are consistent and predictable.
Global estimates for tidal power predict potential capacity of 100GW – if it can show it is commercial – but that deployment would require investment upwards of $A560 billion.
Construction of Orbital Marine Power’s O2 turbine has been supported not only by the Scottish Government through its Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund, but also by public lenders through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“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,” said Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy.
Next steps for Orbital Marine Power will see the company look to commercialising their technology through the deployment of multi-megawatt tidal stream arrays.