World’s most powerful tidal turbine launches in Dundee

Orbital tidal turbine launch

What looks set to be the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine was launched on Earth Day, Thursday 22 April, from the port of Dundee.

The 2MW tidal turbine, the Orbital O2, has been under construction since 2019 and it was developed by Scottish firm Orbital Marine Power (Orbital).

Thursday’s operation was managed by Osprey Shipping and saw the 680-tonne tidal turbine transferred from the Forth Ports quayside facility in Dundee into the River Tay using a submersible barge. The launch marks the completion of the turbine build, managed by TEXO Fabrication, and the O2 will now be towed to the Orkney Islands where it will undergo commissioning before being connected to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) where it will become the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine.

Speaking of the launch, Orbital’s CEO, Andrew Scott, said: “This is a huge milestone for Orbital; the O2 is a remarkable example of British cleantech innovation and the build we have completed here is an inspiring display of what a UK supply chain can achieve if given the opportunity – even under the extraordinary pressures of a pandemic.”

Port of Dundee - Orbital tidal power launch event

Commenting on the launch, Ben Miller, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said:
“The launch of the O2 turbine today in Dundee deserves global attention this Earth Day, as coastal nations seek out the marine technologies that can deliver our net-zero future.

The O2 turbine started construction in the second half of 2019 and is roughly 80% UK-made. From Scottish steel work and main manufacturing through to anchors from Wales and blades from the south of England; the build of the O2 is estimated to have supported over 80 jobs within the UK economy. The launch of the O2 marks the first vessel launch from Dundee since ship building ended over forty years ago.

O2 says it has the ability to generate enough clean, predictable electricity to meet the demand of around 2,000 UK homes and offset approximately 2,200 tonnes of CO2 production per year.

Chris Smith, MD of TEXO Group commented: “The O2 programme has given us a significant opportunity to demonstrate our multi-disciplinary capabilities, and our proactive approach to working collaboratively with clients. We firmly believe that the transition to a net zero environment will deliver a range of opportunities to the UK’s engineering and fabrication sectors and we are very proud to see Orbital’s O2 turbine launched today.”

O2 Orbital tidal power launch in Port of Dundee in April 2021

Also speaking of the launch, John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council said: “I’m very proud of the role that Dundee has played in helping to deliver this pioneering tidal turbine and congratulate the team at Orbital Marine and TEXO for their incredible efforts during the hardest year in recent memory. Orbital Marine’s incredible piece of engineering will play a pivotal role in showcasing this technology and helping Scotland to achieve its ambition in tackling the climate emergency, further propelling Dundee into a city which is transforming itself into a hub for renewables and innovation.”