Orbital Marine’s O2 tidal turbine gets the nod after £7m fundraise

Orbital Marine's new turbine will be the first production model of its kind. Picture: Contributed
Orbital Marine's new turbine will be the first production model of its kind. Picture: Contributed
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Orbital Marine Power (Orkney) will build the UK’s first floating tidal stream turbine to go into commercial production after securing £7 million in fresh investment.

The renewables firm, formerly known as Scotrenewables Tidal Power, will use the funds to build its first production model Orbital O2 two megawatt (MW) turbine, an innovative floating platform to harness tidal energy.

The £7m crowdfunding raise came through ethical investment company Abundance, with around 2,300 individual investors contributing an average of £3,000.

Abundance noted that the project attracted particularly strong interest from investors in Scotland, who put in an average of 50 per cent more, at £4,500.

Orbital’s new turbine will draw upon the success of its SR2000 model which was launched in 2016 and produced in excess of three gigawatt-hours of electricity over its initial 12-month test programme at Orkney’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

This contribution represented more electricity in a single year than Scotland’s entire wave and tidal sector had generated before it.

The O2 device comprises a 73-metre-long floating “superstructure”, supporting two 1MW turbines on either side, that can be towed, installed and easily maintained as its floating turbine avoids “risky” underwater operations.

The project, which is expected to be deployed at EMEC in 2020, has already secured a number of supporting grants and equity funding, including from the Scottish Government.

Chief executive Andrew Scott said: “We are delighted with this funding result; it’s a terrific endorsement of our technology and a clear signal that the UK public is hugely supportive of seeing tidal energy brought into the domestic and global energy mixes.

“The whole team at Orbital Marine are excited to be moving forwards with this flagship project and deliver the first O2 unit for costs similar to offshore wind and so provide the basis for a new and sustainable industry.

“This a journey we are now honoured to be taking with thousands of new investors, thanks to Abundance.”

Abundance joint managing director Bruce Davis hailed the funding drive, which was the investor’s largest raise to date, as the start of the “best year yet” for ethical investment.

He said: “2019 promises to be the best year yet for the environmental and social investment sector, and it feels significant that our largest investment to date reached its £7m target on New Year’s Day.

“The UK can rightly claim to be a world leader in tidal generation technology and our customers have backed it enthusiastically.”