O2 turbine by Orbital Marine Power in September 2021 at the Orkney Islands, north of the Scottish mainland. For businesses and initiatives centered on tidal power and marine energy in general, Scotland has emerged as a hub.
Another development for the developing tidal power industry came on Monday with the announcement by the Scottish engineering company Orbital Marine Power that it had received £8 million ($9.64 million) in funding to “finance the ongoing operation” of its O2 tidal turbine.
Orbital Marine Power announced that the Scottish National Investment Bank, which was established by the Scottish government in November 2020, had contributed £4 million. Through more than 1,000 individual investors, Abundance Investment provides the remaining £4 million.
According to Orbital, the long-term sale of the turbine’s electricity, which is anticipated to produce around 100 gigawatt hours of clean, predictable energy delivered to the UK grid or hydrogen electrolysers over the course of the project, will be used to pay off the debt facilities.
Orbital Marine Power claims that its 2-megawatt O2 has a 74-meter hull structure and weighs 680 metric tons. The O2, which has 10-meter-long blades and began generating electricity for the grid last year, is referred to by the company as “the most potent tidal turbine in the world.”
The SNIB’s investment in Orbital, according to Executive Director Mark Munro, is consistent with the organization’s “mission to support domestic innovation and the just energy transition.”
In the effort to reach net zero, Munro continued, “The company’s distinctive and scalable approach to tidal stream energy has a significant role to play.”
Scotland has a long history of involvement in the production of oil and gas from the North Sea, but in recent years it has also emerged as a hub for businesses and initiatives centered on tidal power and marine energy in general.
The European Marine Energy Centre is located in Orkney, an archipelago in the waters north of mainland Scotland. Developers of wave and tidal energy can test and evaluate their technology at EMEC in the open ocean. On an EMEC site is the O2 turbine for Orbital.
The energy technology supplier TechnipFMC, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, announced a strategic investment in Orbital Marine Power last year.
The energy transition in Europe
Tidal and wave energy installations increased dramatically in Europe in 2021 as deployments in the ocean energy sector returned to pre-pandemic levels and investment increased significantly.
In comparison to just 260 kilowatts in 2020, Ocean Energy Europe reported in March that 2.2 megawatts of tidal stream capacity was installed in Europe last year. According to OEE, 681 kW of wave energy was installed in Europe in 2021, a threefold increase from 2020.
Globally, 3.12 MW of tidal stream capacity was installed in 2021, while 1.38 MW of wave energy went online.
Despite the excitement surrounding the potential of marine energy, tidal stream and wave projects are still very small in scope when compared to other renewable energies.
According to statistics from the trade group WindEurope, 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity were installed in Europe alone in 2021.