World’s most powerful tidal turbine is about to go into operation

Orbital Marine Power’s upcoming commercial production tidal turbine, the Orbital O2 2MW, is nearing completion. It is currently en route to its final location be connected to the European Marine Energy Centre off the Orkney Islands.

Once it’s connected to the European Marine Energy Centre off the Orkney Islands, the 2MW Orbital O2 will generate enough energy to power at least 2,000 homes in the UK per year, making it one of the world’s most powerful tidal turbines currently in use. And offset about 2,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Built-in 2019, the Orbital O2 consists of a 73m 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 20m, it will have a 600sq meter rotor area, the largest ever on a single tidal generating platform to date. The blades on those can rotate a full 360-degrees. This will allow the O2 to generate power from currents without having to move entirely when they change direction. And in the future, the company will also be able to switch to a larger rotor to provide more power.

The entire rig is built from steel using fabrication methods that are designed to reduce costs and futureproof the turbine for volume manufacturing. Its design also helps reduce the draught of the unit to less than 3m to ensure this utility-scale machine can be towed and installed with modest-sized workboats. The machine will also feature new ‘gull wing’ style retractable legs that raise the nacelles, pitch hubs, and blades to the water surface for easy access without the need for any specialist heavy lift vessels.

Orbital O2 was shipped from Scotland’s Forth Ports in Dundee on a Submersible barge to the River Tay and dragged on to the Orkney Islands. This is where the world’s strongest currents have a tidal velocity in excess of 3 m/s and will generate electricity to areas in the Orkney community.

The Orbital O2 is a low-cost solution for future commercial projects and builds on the features which made the SR2000 an industry breakthrough,” said Andrew Scott, CEO of Orbital Marine Power.” This optimized turbine will unlock tidal markets around the world at a competitive price point and provide regulators and investors with a new, predictable renewable energy option.

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