From the Scottish port of Dundee a tidal turbine with a weight of 680 tons, which is described as “the most powerful in the world”, was launched. This is another significant step in the development of the UK marine energy sector.
In an announcement on Thursday, Scottish company Orbital Marine Power announced that its 2 megawatt (MW) turbine, the Orbital O2, is now to be towed to the Orkney Islands, an archipelago north of mainland Scotland, for commissioning.
The turbine will then be connected to the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Center, where it will be commissioned.
Construction work on the 74-meter-long O2 with 10-meter blades began in the second half of 2019. Orbital Marine Power said the start was “the completion of the turbine construction.”
According to the company, the turbine can produce enough electricity to meet the needs of around 2,000 UK households a year. Andrew Scott, CEO of Orbital, described the start as a “major milestone” for his company.
Orbital Marine Power’s announcement comes a day after Mocean Energy, also based in Scotland, announced that its wave energy prototype Blue X will conduct sea trials at an EMEC test site next month before deploying it elsewhere this summer . The machine weighs 38 tons and is 20 meters long.
The UK has miles of coastline and a number of projects and initiatives related to ocean energy.
For example, a year-long research project was announced earlier this month Focus on the potential of tidal, wave and swim wind technology had received support from Marine-i, a program that focused on innovation in areas such as ocean energy.
The project is based on the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off the south west coast of England led by Isles of Scilly Community Venture, Planet A Energy and Waves4Power.
And in March the Port Authority of London gave the go-ahead for experiments in tidal energy technology on a section of the Thames, a move that could ultimately help decarbonize operations related to the river.
While interest in marine energy systems appears to be growing, the current footprint of the industry and its technologies remains small.
Recent figures from Ocean Energy Europe show that only 260 kilowatts (kW) of tidal power capacity was added in Europe last year, while only 200 kW of wave power was installed.
According to the WindEurope industry association, 14.7 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy capacity were installed in Europe in 2020.
Looking ahead, the European Commission wants the capacity of marine energy technologies to reach 100 MW by 2025 and around 1 GW by 2030.