Orbital Marine Power has announced that the world’s most powerful tidal turbine has begun grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Center. O2 is a floating turbine anchored off the Fall of Warness and connected via a subsea cable to the local onshore electricity network. O2 is a 2MW offshore power generation unit.
The power generation device was manufactured and launched in Dundee earlier in 2021 before being towed to Orkney. The device being deployed is the culmination of more than 15 years of development in the UK. The turbine is 74 meters long and is expected to operate in offshore waters for the next 15 years.
Its 2MW of energy production can meet the annual electricity demand for around 2000 UK homes. The power it generates is clean and predictable, thanks to the fast-flowing waters where it is anchored. Public lenders enabled O2’s construction via an ethical investment platform called Abundance Investment. The Scottish government also supported it via the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
With its first power generating unit in place, Orbital is now looking to commercialize this technology via the deployment of multi-MW arrays. The company says UK suppliers delivered about 80 percent of the turbine, and its operation will bring long-term employment to coastal communities. Orbital also says that commercialization costs are expected to decrease significantly compared to the roll-out of the technology, which it says was previously demonstrated with both wind and solar energy.
O2 is designed with twin 1MW power generating nacelles at the end of a retractable leg structure that is designed for low-cost access to all major components for servicing throughout its lifetime. The turbine uses 10-meter blades to give more than 600 square meters of swept area to capture flowing tidal energy. Not only does the device produce enough electricity for about 2000 UK homes, it will offset about 2200 tonnes of carbon dioxide production yearly.