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World’s ‘most powerful’ tidal turbine launched in UK

Image credit: Ines Álvarez Fdez | Unsplash

The world’s “most powerful tidal turbine” was launched yesterday to coincide with Earth Day.

The 74m-long, 680-tonne Orbital 02 entered the River Tay in Dundee and is now being towed to Orkney, where it will use sea currents to generate enough energy to power up to 2,000 homes, according to Scotland-based developers Orbital Marine Power.

Once active, the Orbital 02 will become the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine. Orbital chief executive Andrew Scott said it was a “huge milestone”.

Scott said: “The 02 is a remarkable example of British clean tech 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.”

In a statement, Orbital said: “02 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.”

Ben Miller, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “The launch of the 02 turbine today in Dundee deserves global attention, as coastal nations seek out the marine technologies that can deliver our net-zero future.

“Orbital should be very proud of this contribution to engineering and the UK supply chain and we look forward to its operation in Orkney, a fitting home for one of Scotland’s beacons of energy innovation.”

Construction on the turbine started in 2019, with around 80 per cent of the building materials sourced from the UK.

Tidal power is increasingly making waves in the renewable energy sphere. It has already been deployed in the waters around Scotland at a number of locations to harness the power of the sea.

Last month, a tidal-powered electric vehicle charge point was launched in Shetland by Nova Innovation, which the company claimed was a UK first. The facility is located on the shores of Bluemull Sound, at Cullivoe harbour on the island of Yell in Shetland.

Nova’s tidal turbines have been powering homes and businesses in Shetland for over five years. Now some of the island’s vehicles can also be powered purely by the tide. Simon Forrest, chief executive of Nova Innovation, said: “Our technology generates electricity from the immense power of the seas, and it is changing the way we power our lives – from how we make a cup of tea to how we travel.

“We now have the reality of tidal-powered cars, which demonstrates the huge steps forward we are making in tackling the climate emergency and achieving net-zero by working in harmony with our natural environment".

Nova Innovation is also involved with installing a series of underwater turbines off the west coast of Scotland, which will generate renewable energy to power local Scotch whisky distilleries.

The turbines will be installed in the Sound of Islay, the narrow strait between the islands of Islay and Jura in the Inner Hebrides. Islay is home to nine active distilleries and its exposure to the North Atlantic has made it a hub of tidal power innovation. Jura is home to the Jura distillery.

Tidal energy fared less well regarding the Swansea Bay lagoon proposal, which hoped to tap the energy potential of the River Severn. The UK government finally rejected the promising project in June 2018, after seven years of planning and development.

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