A 550-ton floating turbine smashes records in a significant step forward for tidal power 

  • The European Commission describes "ocean energy" as being both abundant and renewable.
  • The 550-ton turbine is located at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland.
The 2 megawatt SR2000 turbine produced more than 3 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity in less than 12 months.
Scotrenewables Tidal Power 
The 2 megawatt SR2000 turbine produced more than 3 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity in less than 12 months.

A tidal turbine has generated record levels of power production in its first year of testing.

The 2 megawatt (MW) SR2000 turbine produced more than 3 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable electricity in less than 12 months, Scotrenewables Tidal Power said in a statement Tuesday.

The turbine is located at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland. Scotrenewables described the SR2000 as "the world's most powerful operating tidal stream turbine." Tidal stream technologies are able to harness the kinetic energy of currents flowing in and out of tidal areas, according to the EMEC.

Scotrenewables said its turbine had supplied the equivalent annual electricity demand of roughly 830 U.K. households and, at times, more than 25 percent of the Orkney Islands' electricity demand. An estimated 22,000 people live on the islands.

Looking at the bigger picture, the 3 GWh produced by the SR2000 during the last 12 months is greater than the power generated by the total wave and tidal energy sectors in Scotland in the 12 years before the SR2000 was launched in 2016. Testing on the SR2000 began in August 2017.

"The SR2000's phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry," Andrew Scott, the CEO of Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said in a statement. "Despite being an R&D (research and development) project, and it being our first full scale turbine, its first year of testing has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewable technologies," Scott added.

The European Commission has described "ocean energy" as being both abundant and renewable. Ocean energy could potentially contribute around 10 percent of the European Union's power demand by 2050, according to the Commission.

Going forward, Scotrenewables is set to commence construction of a 2 MW commercial production unit later this year. This turbine will be sent to Orkney for testing before the firm looks to sell it. This endeavor will be supported by the EU's Horizon 2020 scheme, a research and innovation program with almost 80 billion euros ($92.18 billion) in funding.

"The SR2000 has completed the job of demonstrating that we have a breakthrough technology and we will now be shifting all our focus and resources towards building on that success with a product which we are confident can enable a new industry created around a predictable renewable energy source," Scott said.

The news was welcomed by environmental organizations. "As we transition to a wholly renewable electricity system, it's really important that we have a diversity of renewable electricity sources," Gina Hanrahan, WWF Scotland's acting head of policy, said in a statement.

"We've seen huge growth in onshore wind and offshore wind over recent years and it's great to see new tidal technologies now hitting new milestones," Hanrahan added.