Tidal Turbine Debuts Off Scottish Coast
There’s a new source of electricity in town and the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, a small archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland, is where the action is at.
Last month, Scotland’s Orbital Marine Power announced that they have built and towed a floating 680-ton tidal turbine to the strong tidal currents along the Orkney shoreline. Deemed the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, the Orbital O2 generates 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity, which is enough to supply 2,000 homes.
Source: BBC News
The 74 meter-long hull structure looks like a submarine floating on the ocean surface with two long arms that raise and lower the nacelles for maintenance. The nacelles, long cylindrical pods that each contain a 1 MW generator, look similar to a wind turbine with a two-bladed rotor system. The unique arm design of the O2 permits the nacelles to be raised above the surface of the water for maintenance, allowing for lower repair costs. The unit is secured to the ocean bottom through a four-point mooring system, and the electrical connection reaches the shore via a flexible conductor that is attached to the main body of the O2.
The purpose of this unique structure, motorized by fast-flowing waters, is to send power to a land-based electrolyzer, generating green hydrogen, and is expected to meet the annual electricity demand of about 2,000 homes in the UK for the next 15 years.
Unlike wind, which can be unpredictable, tidal currents are more consistent. However, the manufacturing and installation costs are still high, and environmental factors have yet to be determined.
The development of wind energy still outpaces tidal energy, but there is great potential within the marine sector for further innovation.
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