The O2 turbine, recently deployed offshore Scotland by Orbital Marine Power, will be the basis for the commercialization of floating tidal power plant technology and its integration with wind power, batteries, and hydrogen production. The company from Scottland is at the helm of an EU-backed consortium of companies and scientific institutions.
The technology of floating power plants is progressing fast. The largest floating wind power plant on the planet was commissioned in the North Sea near the eastern part of Scotland in August, right after Orbital Marine Power deployed the world’s strongest tidal turbine, called O2, offshore the Orkney archipelago in the north. The system has a capacity of 2 MW.
Orbital now established a pan-European consortium to deliver the FORWARD-2030 project, worth EUR 26.7 million, for accelerating the commercial use of floating tidal energy. The European Union supported the endeavor with a EUR 20.5 million grant from the Horizon 2020 program.
Forward-2030 stands for Fast-tracking Offshore Renewable energy With Advanced Research to Deploy 2030 MW of tidal energy before 2030. The project will last until 2025.
Orbital’s next system to include batteries, hydrogen production
The partners will also combine predictable floating tidal energy, wind generation, grid export, battery storage and green hydrogen production. The next Orbital turbine is planned to be integrated with a hydrogen production facility and a battery system at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. It will be installed next to O2.
Of note, SINN Power has been experimenting with similar combinations.
The consortium will work on capacity and performance improvements, environmental monitoring and marine spatial planning
The group said it would work on the integration of large-scale tidal power into future net zero energy systems in parallel to environmental monitoring and marine spatial planning.
During the project, Orbital intends to advance its design with support from technical partner SKF to increase capacity and performance.
EMEC will host the demonstration, facilitate hydrogen production, deliver a comprehensive environmental monitoring program and develop a live environmental monitoring system and test program.
Engie Laborelec is responsible for assessing large-scale integration of tidal energy and the development of a smart energy management system and an operational forecasting tool. The University of Edinburgh will deliver a techno-economic analysis of tidal energy.
Orbital revealed the group identified tidal energy sites with a potential of over 2 GW.
Cables take electricity to mainland
Tidal speeds can exceed three meters per second at the location where O2 is floating. Orbital, founded in 2002, tested two turbine solutions before it. Electricity is transferred via a dynamic cable to the seabed and a static cable along the seabed to the local onshore electricity network.
Horizon 2020 supported the endeavor. Scotland is among the backers, too, through its Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
Nova Innovation, also from Scotland, recently obtained GBP 6.4 million from the Scottish National Investment Bank to manufacture and distribute its subsea tidal turbines and fund research and development.