Scottish based tidal energy developer Orbital Marine Power (Orbital) have signed up to a second berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland. This will pave the way for Orbital to deliver their first floating tidal turbine farm.

Orbital are currently in the process of manufacturing their first commercial O2 turbine; at 2 MW and with a swept area of over 600 m2 the O2 will be the world’s most powerful tidal turbine and will be capable of meeting the annual electricity demand of over 1,700 UK homes.

Orbital were successful in raising £7 million in crowdfunding to deliver the first O2 turbine along with being awarded £3.4 million by the Scottish Government through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund. The O2 project is also being supported with European funding via the Horizon 2020 FloTEC project and Interreg NWE ITEG project.

The first O2 turbine is currently expected to be grid connected at EMEC by the end of 2020 with a view to being fully operational in early 2021.

Securing a second berth at EMEC provides a route for the company to deliver a 4 MW floating farm at EMEC’s Fall of Warness tidal energy test site, off Orkney’s northern island of Eday. Estimated installation for the second turbine is 2022.

The Orbital O2 will comprise of a 72 m long floating superstructure, supporting two 1 MW turbines at either side for a nameplate power output of 2MW, at a tidal current speed of 2.5 m/s. With rotor diameters of 20 m, it will have a 600 sq metre rotor area, the largest ever on a single tidal generating platform to date.

Power exported from the turbines, via EMEC’s subsea cable and onshore substation, will feed the national grid on Orkney. During the previous testing campaign of the company’s SR2000 turbine in 2018, up to 25% of the Orkney electricity demand was met by the single prototype at times.

Andrew Scott, CEO at Orbital Marine Power said:

“We are delighted to have secured this second berth; it’s a vital step towards delivery of our first tidal array. The current O2 build is progressing in line with expectations, thanks to a fantastic supply chain we have working with us, and this second berth provides us the opportunity to set the vision for how we are going to further the commercialisation of our industry leading technology and accelerate the deployment of tidal energy at scale globally.”

Neil Kermode, Managing Director at EMEC said:

“This is fantastic news for the tidal energy industry which has been going from strength to strength over the last three years as more gigawatt hours have been fed into the grid than ever before. The first floating tidal energy farm marks another step forward for the sector which is demonstrating that it will be a vital part of the world’s drive towards net zero.”