The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million ($4.1 million) in funding to help build the world’s most powerful floating tidal turbine.
Scottish engineering company Orbital Marine Power has been awarded the money as the first recipient of the Scottish Government’s £10 million Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
The funding will be used to deliver a O2 2MW Floating Tidal Energy Turbine, capable of powering more than 1,700 homes per year. The 72-meter (236-foot) O2, capable of generating more than 2MW from tidal stream resources, will be built in Scotland and installed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
The Orbital O2 will comprise of a long floating superstructure, supporting two 1MW turbines at either side for a nameplate power output of 2MW, at a tidal current speed of 2.5 m/s. With rotor diameters of 20 meters (66 feet), it will have a 600 square meter rotor area, the largest ever on a single tidal generating platform to date. Its turbine rotors will be able to be turned 360° to allow power to be extracted from both tidal directions.
The device will be manufactured by Scottish company Texo Group at their new quayside facilities in Dundee. Key components will delivered by Gray Fabrication using material from Liberty Steel.
The Orbital technology has been under continuous engineering development, including testing of scaled systems in both tank conditions and open ocean environments, since the company was founded in Orkney in 2002. Orbital were the first company in the world to successfully grid connect a floating tidal turbine in 2011 with their 250kW scale system which was operated at EMEC. In 2016 Orbital launched the SR2000, the world’s most powerful tidal stream turbine. The SR2000 produced in excess of 3GW of electricity over its initial 12 month continuous test program.
Scotland has an estimated one third of the U.K.’s tidal stream resources and two thirds of the U.K.’s wave resources. Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “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.
“However, the large scale roll out of both tidal and wave energy technologies has been harmed by the U.K. Government’s decision in 2016 to abandon its commitment to provide ring-fenced funding support. U.K. ministers must act quickly to provide the revenue support this exciting and innovative sector requires to achieve its economic potential.”