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World’s Most Powerful Tidal Turbine Joins UK Grid in Marine Energy First

David Paul

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World's Most Powerful Tidal Turbine EU tidal project
The milestone marks another major step forward for Scotland’s developing marine energy sector ahead of COP26.

Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has announced the connection of the ‘world’s most powerful tidal turbine’ to the national grid for the first time.

Orbital Marine Power’s O2 is connected to the mainland via sub-sea cable to the 2MW offshore unit and then on to the local onshore electricity network. O2 will remain anchored in the Fall of Warness.

The EMEC says this marks a “key milestone” in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 FloTEC project which previously provided funding towards the development of O2.

Manufactured and launched in Dundee earlier in the year before being towed up to Orkney, the O2 received initial £3.4 million funding from the Scottish Government back in 2019.

Engineering company Orbital Marine Power used the money to develop the “next-generation” tidal turbine, capable of powering more than 1,700 homes each year.

The O2 is the firm’s first commercial turbine and represents the “culmination of more than 15 years of world-leading product development”. Orbital says the 74 metre long turbine is expected to operate in the waters off Orkney “for the next 15 years”

Commenting on the news, Andrew Scott, Orbital CEO, 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.”

World Most Powerful Tidal Turbine

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 O2 has the capacity to provide clean, and – importantly – predictable energy to meet the annual demands of around 2,000 British homes. Additionally, the O2 is to provide power to EMEC’s onshore electrolyser to generate green hydrogen that will be used to demonstrate decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy of The Scottish Government commented: “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 10 years, including through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge fund, which provided £3.4m 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.”


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Orkney and the EMEC has fast become a major centre for tech projects, with firms such as Mocean Energy and Microsoft both running major projects out of the Scottish coastal town.

Mocean begun prototype trials of its own wave technology in June which also took place alongside the EMEC off the coast of Orkney after being towed from Kirkwall.

Tech giant Microsoft installed the second phase of its Project Natick data centre at the EMEC in June 2018, with Orkney set as the best place to test underwater trials on data centres to test efficiency.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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