Orbital Marine Power Ltd (Orbital) is an innovative Scottish engineering company founded in 2002. Orbital’s focus is on the development of tidal energy turbine technology capable of reducing the cost of electricity generation from tidal currents. The company, headquartered in Orkney with offices in Edinburgh, currently employs 32 people.
Orbital’s pioneering technology is realised in the O2 2MW tidal turbine, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine. The O2 has been under continuous development, with rigorous testing in tank conditions and open ocean environments for over fifteen years. Under its participation in the Interreg Channel Region TiGER Project, Orbital continues to carry out commercial feasibility evaluations of innovations to the technology. This work covers a wide variety of improvements to continue to reduce costs and increase yield as well as to promote structural and manufacturing efficiencies.
As well as working with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney and with Morlais in Wales, Orbital has recently signed an agreement with Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC) in the Isle of Wight.
The build of the O2 has been supported by the Scottish Government under the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund. It has also been supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the FloTEC project and the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg North West Europe Programme under the ITEG project. It has also received support under the OCEANERA-NET COFUND.
Orbital and Morlais
Orbital first signed an agreement with Morlais in 2018 – one of the first developers to come on board with the project – to see a commercial scale array of Orbital’s O2 tidal turbines off the coast of Anglesey.
Orbital’s technology is designed to minimise the costs of maintenance with quick, access to all its components using locally based workboat vessels and service teams. The O2 turbine has a 74m long superstructure with twin 1MW power generating pods. Ten metre blades give the O2 more than 600m² of swept area to capture flowing tidal energy, the largest ever on a floating tidal device.
The O2 is held in place with a four-point mooring system where each mooring chain has the capacity to lift over 50 double decker buses. Electricity is transferred from the turbine via cables to the local onshore electricity network. Each O2 unit is capable of producing 2MW of electricity, equivalent to the demands of 2,000 homes.
Orbital has already begun to engage with the Welsh supply chain. Anglesey-based Faun Trackway has delivered a contract to manufacture steel anchor structures and bespoke mooring connectors for Orbital’s first O2 machine from their facility in Llangefni. This first O2 is now deployed in Orkney, where Orbital has an existing berth and grid connection at EMEC.