The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million in funding to help build the world’s most powerful floating tidal turbine.
Engineering company Orbital Marine Power will use the funding boost to develop a “next-generation” tidal turbine capable of powering more than 1,700 homes each year.
The Kirkwall-based firm is the first recipient of Holyrood’s £10 million Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund, which aims to support the development in tidal energy across Scotland.
At 72 metres long, the O2 Floating Tidal Energy Turbine is capable of generating more than 2MW (megawatts) from tidal stream resources, with its rotors capable of turning 360 degrees to allow power to be extracted from both tidal directions.
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Andrew Scott, chief executive at Orbital, commented: “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 O2 project will demonstrate how this emerging industrial sector has the ability to deliver new jobs and open up diversification opportunities for the UK’s supply chain in a growing global market, whilst pioneering solutions for a zero-carbon future.”
The turbine will be manufactured and built in Scotland by Texo Group before being installed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. Key components of the device will also be delivered by Gray Fabrication in Cupar using materials from Liberty Steel in Motherwell.
Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “We have established a world lead in marine renewable technologies and this project represents a significant step forward in technological development. We are delighted this landmark turbine, designed by an innovative Scottish company, will also be built in Scotland.
“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.”
The minister also took a swipe at the UK Government, suggesting that the roll-out of both tidal and wave energy technologies have been harmed by Westminster’s decision to abandon its commitment to provide ring-fenced funding support.
He said: “UK ministers must act quickly to provide the revenue support this exciting and innovative sector requires to achieve its economic potential.