World's 'most powerful tidal generating turbine' set to be demonstrated in waters off Wales

Key Points
  • O2 turbine will use 73-meter-long "floating superstructure" to support two 1 MW turbines on each side.
  • Orbital Marine Power believes it will be the "most powerful tidal generating turbine in the world."
This illustration depicts how the Orbital O2 turbine will look when in the water. 
Orbital Marine Power Ltd 

Scottish engineering firm Orbital Marine Power has signed an agreement to demonstrate its floating tidal technology at the Morlais Tidal Energy Project at Anglesey, an island off the coast of Wales.

The agreement with not-for-profit developers Menter Mon will result in the deployment of a "commercial-scale tidal array" of Orbital Marine Power's 2 megawatt (MW) O2 tidal turbine.

Orbital said it believed its turbine would be the "most powerful tidal generating turbine in the world," with each unit able to produce electricity equivalent to the needs of 1,500 typical homes in the U.K.

The Morlais initiative benefits from part funding from the European Regional Development Fund via the Welsh government. The project has been able to secure a grid connection offer and a consent application is slated to be submitted in mid-2019.

"The Morlais project gives us line of sight to a commercial and scalable tidal energy array in U.K. waters," Andrew Scott, the CEO of Orbital Marine Power, said in a statement Monday.

"The concentration of tidal energy off the coast here, supported by great infrastructure in North Wales, makes this an ideal location to build out a new marine industry that can create new demand for skills and services both locally and further afield."

Designs for the O2 turbine were unveiled towards the end of November. It will use a 73-meter-long "floating superstructure" to support two 1 MW turbines on each side and will have rotor diameters of 20 meters.

Formerly called Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd., Orbital Marine Power launched its SR2000 turbine in 2016. During its initial 12-month test program, the SR2000 generated more than 3 gigawatt hours of electricity.

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