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Orbital Marine Power launches the world’s most powerful tidal turbine


Scottish floating tidal turbine technology provider Orbital Marine Power has successfully launched its 2MW tidal turbine, the Orbital O2, from the Port of Dundee.

The operation was managed by Osprey Heavy Lift and saw the 680-tonne tidal turbine transferred from the Forth Ports quayside facility in Dundee into the River Tay using a submersible barge.

The launch marks the completion of the turbine build, managed by TEXO Fabrication, and the O2 will now be towed to the Orkney Islands, where it will undergo commissioning before being connected to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), becoming the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine.

Orbital’s chief executive Andrew Scott, said: “This is a huge milestone for Orbital; the O2 is a remarkable example of British cleantech innovation and the build we have completed here is an inspiring display of what a UK supply chain can achieve if given the opportunity – even under the extraordinary pressures of a pandemic.”

The O2 turbine started construction in the second half of 2019 and reflects approximately 80% UK supply content.

From Scottish steel work and main manufacturing, through to anchors from Wales and blades from the South of England, the build of the O2 is estimated to have supported over 80 jobs within the UK economy.

The launch of the O2 also marks the first vessel launch from Dundee since ship building ended over forty years ago.

The turbine has the ability to generate enough clean, predictable electricity to meet the demand of around 2,000 UK homes and offset approximately 2,200 tonnes of CO2 production per year.

John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council said: “I’m very proud of the role that Dundee has played in helping to deliver this pioneering tidal turbine and congratulate the team at Orbital Marine and TEXO for their incredible efforts during the hardest year in recent memory.”



The O2 turbine being towed from Forth Ports in Dundee
The O2 turbine being towed from Forth Ports in Dundee

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 2002.

The company currently employs 32 staff, based in offices in Orkney and Edinburgh.

The O2 turbine has a 74m long hull structure with twin 1MW power generating nacelles at the end of retractable leg structures designed to give low-cost access to all major components for through life servicing.

Its 10m blades give more than 600m of swept area to capture flowing tidal energy. The floating structure is held on station with a four-point mooring system where each mooring chain has the capacity to lift over 50 double decker buses.

The O2 has been designed so that installation of the turbine, and all its associated moorings, can be carried out by low-cost work vessels and servicing can be carried out by RIB vessels – minimising downtime and lowering construction and operational costs.

Electricity is transferred from the turbine via a dynamic cable to the seabed and a static cable along the seabed to the local onshore electricity network.

The O2 project has been supported through funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the FloTEC project and the European Regional Development Fund.

The build was supported by the Scottish Government under the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund and the project was also enabled by a £7m commercial debenture from the Abundance Investment platform.

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