The world’s most powerful tidal turbine just received significant funding

An Orbital Marine Power O2 turbine in Orkney, north of the Scottish mainland, in September 2021. Scotland has become a hub for companies and projects focused on tidal energy and marine energy in general.

William Edwards | AFP | Getty Images

Scottish engineering company Orbital Marine Power said on Monday it had secured £8 million ($9.64 million) in funding to “finance the ongoing operation” of its O2 tidal turbine, another step forward for the nascent tidal energy sector.

Orbital Marine Power said in a statement that £4 million came from the Scottish National Investment Bank, which was set up by the Scottish Government in November 2020. The remaining £4 million came from Abundance Investment through over 1,000 individual investors.

“These debt obligations will be serviced by a long-term sale of electricity from the turbine, which is projected to be around 100 gigawatt-hours of net predictable power supplied to the UK grid or hydrogen cells over the life of the project,” Orbital said.

Its 2-megawatt O2 weighs 680 metric tons and has a 74-meter hull structure, according to Orbital Marine Power. The company describes the O2, which uses 10m blades and last year began to generate electricity connected to the gridas “the most powerful tidal turbine in the world”.

Mark Munro, chief executive of SNIB, said his investment in Orbital is in line with his “mission to support domestic innovation and a just energy transition.”

“The company’s unique and scalable approach to tidal energy plays an important role in reaching zero emissions,” Munro added.

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

Orkney, an archipelago in the waters north of the Scottish mainland, is home to the European Marine Energy Centre. At EMEC, wave and tidal developers can test and evaluate their technologies on the high seas. The Orbital O2 turbine is located at the EMEC site.

Last year on the New York list TechnipFMCwhich supplies technology to the energy sector, has announced a strategic investment in Orbital Marine Power.

Europe’s energy transition

In 2021, European tidal and wave power generation installations jumped as the ocean energy sector saw a return to pre-pandemic levels and a significant increase in investment.

In March, Ocean Energy Europe reported that 2.2 megawatts of tidal current power was installed in Europe last year, up from 260 kilowatts in 2020. In terms of wave power, 681 kW were installed in Europe in 2021, three times more than in 2020, according to the OEE. .

In 2021, 1.38 MW of wave energy was commissioned worldwide, and 3.12 MW of tidal currents.

While there is excitement about the potential of marine energy, the overall size of tidal and wave projects remains very small compared to other renewable energy sources.

According to industry organization WindEurope, 17.4 gigawatts of wind farms were installed in Europe in 2021 alone.