The most powerful tidal turbine in the world has just received a major financial boost


Orbital Marine Power’s O2 turbine in the Orkney Islands, north of mainland Scotland, in September 2021. Scotland has become a hub for businesses and projects focusing on tidal energy and marine energy in general .

William Edwards | AFP | Getty Images

Scottish engineering company Orbital Marine Power announced on Monday that it has secured £8 million ($9.64 million) in funding to “fund the ongoing operation” of its O2 tidal turbine, a new breakthrough for the nascent tidal energy sector.

In an announcement, Orbital Marine Power said £4 million came from the Scottish National Investment Bank, which was set up by the Scottish government in November 2020. The other £4 million came from Abundance Investment, via more of 1,000 individual investors.

“These credit facilities will be funded by the long-term sale of electricity from the turbine, expected to be around 100 gigawatt hours of clean, predictable energy delivered to the UK grid or hydrogen electrolyzers over the life of its project,” Orbital said.

According to Orbital Marine Power, its 2-megawatt O2 weighs 680 metric tons and has a hull structure of 74 meters. The company describes the O2, which uses 10-meter blades and began grid-connected power generation last year, as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine”.

Mark Munro, executive director of SNIB, said its investment in Orbital was in line with its “mission to support local innovation and the just energy transition”.

“The company’s unique and scalable approach to tidal energy has an important role to play in the journey to net zero,” Munro added.

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Scotland has long been associated with the production of oil and gas in the North Sea, but in recent years it has also become a hub for tidal and marine energy companies and projects in general.

Orkney, an archipelago in the waters north of mainland Scotland, is home to the European Marine Energy Centre. At EMEC, wave and tidal energy developers can test and evaluate their technology in the open ocean. Orbital’s O2 turbine is located at an EMEC site.

Last year, TechnipFMC, a New York-listed company that provides technology to the energy sector, announced a strategic investment in Orbital Marine Power.

Europe’s energy transition

European installations of tidal and wave energy capacity surged in 2021, as the ocean energy sector saw deployments return to pre-pandemic levels and a substantial increase in investment.

In March, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 megawatts of tidal capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020. For wave power, 681 kW were installed in Europe in 2021, which, according to the OEE, was a threefold increase from 2020. .

Globally, 1.38 MW of wave power came online in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal capacity was installed.

Although there is excitement about the potential of ocean energy, the overall size of tidal and wave energy projects remains very small compared to other renewable energies.

In 2021 alone, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind capacity, according to figures from industry body WindEurope.


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