Orbital Marine Power’s distinctive O2 turbine has commenced grid connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney
Manufactured and launched in Dundee earlier in the year before being towed up to Orkney, the 74-metre turbine represents the culmination of more than 15 years of product development. It 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 homes.
The floating turbine is anchored in the Fall of Warness where a subsea cable connects the two megawatt offshore unit to the local onshore electricity network.
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 turbine was enabled by public lenders through the ethical investment platform, Abundance Investment, as well as being supported by the Scottish Government through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
Scottish Government secretary for net zero and energy Michael Matheson 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 ten years, including through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge fund, which provided £3.4 million for this project.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero. I congratulate Orbital Marine, the European Marine Energy Centre and everyone who has made this achievement possible.”
About 80 per cent of the turbine was delivered by UK suppliers and operation will bring long-term employment to coastal communities. Costs are projected to fall steeply from the initial roll-out of the technology, as previously seen with wind and solar energy.
Scott added: “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.”
The turbine’s floating structure is held on station with a four-point mooring system where each mooring chain has the capacity to lift about 50 double-decker buses.