SCOTLAND’S reputation as a pioneer in the development of marine power was given a boost today as a tidal-powered turbine hailed as the most powerful in the world started to generate electricity.
It’s yet another example of how Scotland’s abundant green energy resources give it the potential to prosper as an independent country.
Here are five things you need to know about the latest development and about marine power in Scotland.
1: The Orbital 02 turbine is generating electricity via the grid in Orkney. It has the capacity to meet the annual electricity demand of 2,000 homes for the next 15 years. It is Orbital Marine Power’s first commercial turbine and the company has hailed it as a “major milestone”. It is also providing power to an onshore electrolyser to generate green hydrogen, created using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Its only by-product is water.
Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy
Scottish energy secretary Michael Matheson today highlighted the country’s “abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition,’’ which he said ideally-placed it to ‘’harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy’’. He added: “The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2 is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero.”
2: The 02 turbine was assembled in Dundee over 18 months and was sailed out of the city in May. The turbine was lowered on to a barge on the River Tay before it began its journey to Orkney. The O2 turbine attracted support through the ethical investment platform, Abundance Investment and also received £3.4m from the Scottish government’s Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
3: The tidal turbine is 74m long and weighs 680 tonnes. It is now anchored in the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Fall of Warness tidal test site. Orkney-based EMEC has become a major hub for the development of wave and tidal power. The turbine’s superstructure floats on the surface of the water, with rotors attached to its legs which extract energy from the passing tidal flow.
4: Four turbines off the north coast of Scotland generated enough energy to power nearly 4,000 homes in 2019. MeyGen, the world’s largest tidal array, has completed the longest ever run of uninterrupted generation by a multi-megawatt tidal turbine.
The four giant turbines have exported more than 24.7 gigawatt hours (GWh) of predictable renewable power to the national grid. It was the first phase of a project that could eventually power 175,000 homes with more than 250 submerged turbines.
The array is off the mainland of Scotland, near the uninhabited island of Stroma.
Scotland has a huge offshore renewables potential, with an estimated 25% of Europe’s tidal resource
A 2016 estimate from the European Commission said wave and tidal power could account for 10% of the EU’s energy needs by 2050.
5: The Scottish government funds the Wave Energy Scotland (WES) technology programme, which has so far invested more than £30 million in more than 80 projects. Scotland has a huge offshore renewables potential, with an estimated 25% of Europe’s tidal resource, 25% of its offshore wind resource and 10% of its wave potential.