Earlier this week, a company called Orbital Marine Power successfully launched its latest tidal turbine. Once it’s connected to the European Marine Energy Centre off the Orkney Islands, the two megawatt O2 will have the capacity to generate enough energy to power 2,000 UK households annually, making it one of the world’s most powerful tidal turbines currently in use.
Construction on the project started in 2019. The O2 builds on Orbital’s previous generation SR2000 tidal turbine. The new model consists of a 239-foot superstructure connected to two turbines with 32 foot long rotors. The blades on those can rotate a full 360-degrees. That’s a feature that allows the O2 to generate power from currents without having to move entirely when they change direction. In the future, Orbital says it also has the option to install even larger blades on the O2.
Harnessing the power of the ocean is something the UK has been thinking about for a while. Back in 2015, one company wanted to build the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant off the country’s coast. While the project was ultimately rejected by the government, others have since gone ahead. Just a day before Orbital’s announcement, another Scottish firm called Mocean Energy unveiled the Blue X, a 65 foot long prototype machine for generating tidal power.