Orbital Marine Power launches the ‘world’s most powerful’ tidal turbine

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Orbital Marine Power Ltd (Orbital) has announced it has successfully launched the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, the Orbital O2, from the Port of Dundee.

The operation was managed by Osprey Shipping Ltd and saw the 680-tonne tidal turbine transferred from the Forth Ports quayside facility in Dundee into the River Tay using a submersible barge (pictured below).

The launch marks the completion of the turbine build, managed by TEXO Fabrication, and the turbine will now be towed to the Orkney Islands where it will undergo commissioning before being connected to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) where it will become the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine.

Speaking of the launch, Orbital’s CEO, Andrew Scott, said:

“This is a huge milestone for Orbital; the O2 is a remarkable example of British cleantech innovation and the build we have completed here is an inspiring display of what a UK supply chain can achieve if given the opportunity – even under the extraordinary pressures of a pandemic.”

The 2MW turbine started construction in the second half of 2019 and reflects approximately 80% UK supply content. From Scottish steel work and main manufacturing through to anchors from Wales and blades from the south of England; the build is estimated to have supported over 80 jobs within the UK economy. The launch of the O2 marks the first vessel launch from Dundee since ship building ended over forty years ago.

It has the ability to generate enough clean, predictable electricity to meet the demand of around 2,000 UK homes and offset approximately 2,200 tonnes of CO2 production per year.

Chris Smith, MD of TEXO Group commented:

“The O2 programme has given us a significant opportunity to demonstrate our multi-disciplinary capabilities, and our proactive approach to working collaboratively with clients. We firmly believe that the transition to a net zero environment will deliver a range of opportunities to the UK’s engineering and fabrication sectors and we are very proud to see Orbital’s O2 turbine launched today.”

Also speaking of the launch, John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council said:

“I’m very proud of the role that Dundee has played in helping to deliver this pioneering tidal turbine and congratulate the team at Orbital Marine and TEXO for their incredible efforts during the hardest year in recent memory.

“Orbital Marine’s incredible piece of engineering will play a pivotal role in showcasing this technology and helping Scotland to achieve its ambition in tackling the climate emergency, further propelling Dundee into a city which is transforming itself into a hub for renewables and innovation.”

The O2 turbine has a 74m long hull structure with twin 1MW power generating nacelles at the end of retractable leg structures designed to give low-cost access to all major components for through life servicing. 10m blades give the O2 more than 600m2 of swept area to capture flowing tidal energy.The floating structure is held on station with a four-point mooring system where each mooring chain has the capacity to lift over 50 double decker buses. The technology has been designed so that installation of the turbine, and all its associated moorings, can be carried out by low-cost work vessels and servicing can be carried out by RIB vessels – minimising downtime and lowering construction and operational costs. Electricity is transferred from the turbine via a dynamic cable to the seabed and a static cable along the seabed to the local onshore electricity network.

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