World’s Most Powerful Tidal Turbine
- The Orbital O2 can generate enough green electricity for 2,000 homes and will operate for 15 years.
- It will offset the equivalent of 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
- Wave and tidal power are an important part of the green energy mix for reducing global CO2 emissions.
The world’s most powerful tidal energy turbine is in operation in Orkney, off the northern shores of mainland Scotland. Capable of generating enough renewable electricity to meet the needs of 2,000 homes and offsetting around 2,200 tonnes of CO2 (per year), the most powerful wave-power turbine in the world has gone into service.
The Orbital O2 floating turbine is anchored in the notoriously fast-flowing waters of the Orkney archipelago, which lies less than 20km to the north of the Scottish mainland. It measures 74m in length and is destined to remain operational for the next 15 years. A subsea cable connects the Orbital O2’s 2 MW output to the onshore electricity network.
Renewable energy and the 1.5ºC target
The need to make more progress toward the energy transition is as pressing as ever. Since 1992, when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed, CO2 emissions from energy and industry have increased by 60%. That’s despite all the subsequent agreements and pledges from governments around the world to tackle the matter urgently.
In the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Net Zero by 2050 report, the organization warns that enough simply hasn’t been done to reduce global energy-related CO2 and that the Paris Agreement target of 1.5ºC warming above pre-industrial levels is in jeopardy.
Scotland is particularly well-placed to take advantage of wave power for generating greener electricity. It has an estimated 18,743 km of coastline and a sea area of approximately 462,315 km2. Harvesting power from waves and the tides could meet as much as 20% of the UK’s electricity demand, according to a 2013 government report. Since then, the withdrawal of public subsidies for some green energy projects has led to some tidal power developments being cancelled or postponed in the UK.
The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy, Michael Matheson, in a statement on the Orbital website, said: “With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally-placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.”