October 3, 2022

Orbital Marine Power’s O2 turbines in the Orkney Islands, north of the Scottish mainland, in September 2021. Scotland has become a hub for companies and projects focused on tidal power and marine energy in general.

William Edwards | AFP | Getty Images

Scottish engineering firm Orbital Marine Power said on Monday it had secured £8 million ($9.64 million) in funding to “fund the ongoing operation” of its O2 tidal turbines, in another step forward for the nascent tidal power sector.

In an announcement, Orbital Marine Power said the £4 million came from the Scottish National Investment Bank, which was set up by the Scottish government in November 2020. The other £4 million is coming from investing Abundance, by more than 1,000 individual investors.

“This debt facility will be serviced by the long-term sale of electricity from the turbines, projected at approximately 100 GWh of predictable clean energy, delivered to the UK grid or hydrogen electrolyzer for the life of its project,” Orbital said.

According to Orbital Marine Power, the 2-megawatt O2 weighs 680 metric tons and has a hull height of 74 meters. The company describes the O2 engine, which uses 10-meter blades and began generating grid-connected power last year, as “the most powerful tidal turbine in the world.”

Mark Munro, CEO of SNIB, said his investment in Orbital is in line with its “mission to support local innovation and the equitable transition of energy.”

“The company’s unique and scalable approach to tidal energy plays an important role in the journey toward net zero,” Munro added.

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Scotland has had a long relationship with oil and gas production in the North Sea, but in recent years it has also become a hub for companies and projects focusing on tidal and offshore energy in general.

Orkney, an archipelago in the waters north of mainland Scotland, is home to the European Offshore Energy Centre. At EMEC, wave and tidal energy developers can test and evaluate their technology in the open sea. Orbital O2 turbines are on the EMEC site.

Last year, New York-listed TechnipFMC, which provides technology to the energy sector, announced a strategic investment in Orbital Marine Power.

The energy transition in Europe

European tidal and wave energy installations jumped in 2021 as the ocean energy sector saw deployments return to pre-pandemic levels and a significant increase in investment.

In March, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 megawatts of tidal current capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020. For wave power, 681 kilowatts were installed in Europe in 2021, which the OEE said is A threefold increase from 2020.

Globally, 1.38 MW of wave power was commissioned in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal current power was installed.

While there is excitement about the potential of offshore energy, the total size of tidal and wave projects is still very small compared to other renewable energy sources.

In 2021 alone, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind capacity, according to figures from industry body WindEurope.

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