The floating turbine, claimed by Orbital to be the worlds largest, has been fabricated using ship-building technology in Dundee, and is anchored in the Fall of Warness.
74m long O2 is Orbital’s first commercial turbine, following 15 years of UK development including the 2MW SR2000 prototype, and is expected to operate for 15 years.
“This is a major milestone for the O2 and I would like to commend the whole team at Orbital and our supply chain for delivering this renewable energy project safely,” said Orbital CEO Andrew Scott.
The company aims to commercialise its technology as multi-MW arrays. It expects production costs to fall steeply, as they have with wind and solar.
“Supporting this endeavour in UK waters would bring substantial benefits beyond complimenting the clean energy transition, as evidenced in the build of the O2, where around 80% of the turbine was delivered by UK suppliers, and operation will bring long term employment to coastal communities,” according to Orbital – for example, the four 10m long blades, two for each rotor, were made by A C Marine & Composites in Hampshire.
Cost of maintenance is a key factor with tidal turbines. O2, moored by four chains, has a buoyant hull and floats. People can enter the hull to service the power conditioning equipment, and its arms can be raised to bring its generators and blades out of the water when they need attention.
The UK is a hot bed of tidal turbine development. For example: O2 is not the first high-power tidal turbine to feed power into the grid. That honour goes to the now decommissioned 1.2MW SeaGen, which delivered power into the grid for years from its post off Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. It was designed and built by Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines, now part of Siemens.
Funding for the construction of O2 was by public lenders through the Abundance Investment ethical investment platform, as well from: the Scottish Government (Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund, £3.4m), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme (under the FloTEC project), the European Regional Development Fund (ITEG project, through Interreg North West Europe Programme) and under the Oceanera-Net CoFund project framework (With Horizon2020).