The World's Most Powerful Tidal Turbine Is Almost Complete

Allegedly the world's most powerful turbine, the O2 is almost complete.
Christopher McFadden

The Orbital 02, purportedly the "world's most powerful" tidal turbine is nearing completion. Designed and built by Orbital Marine Power, the 02 is currently en route to its final location off the Orkney Islands. 

Once operational, the turbine will kick out nearly 2 megawatts of power. That is enough to power at least 2,000 homes in the UK every year. The turbine will be connected to the European Marine Energy Centre off the Orkney Islands. 

Construction of the turbine first commenced in 2019, and it builds on the company's previous generation of large tidal turbines the SR2000. The 02, however, is much larger and consists of a 239-foot (73 m) floating superstructure that supports two 1 MW turbines.

Resembling a concept model for a starship, the entire rig is built from steel using fabrication methods that are designed to reduce costs and futureproof the turbine for future mass production. Its design also helps to reduce the draught of the unit to less than 9.8 feet (3 m) to enable easier towing and installation in situ using modestly-sized workboats. 

02 world's biggest turbine
The 02's design featuring "gull-wing" nacelle struts for the turbines. Source: Orbital Marine

"The Orbital O2 has been designed for low-cost access to all systems and components, the vast majority of which are located within the floating superstructure for simple onsite maintenance as per the SR2000," said Orbital Marine Power in a press release

The turbine is big but is also built to last

The turbine will also feature something called a "gull-wing" style set of retractable legs. These have been specially designed to raise the nacelles, pitch hubs, and blades out of the water for ease of maintenance and repair. 

Each turbine has a 64-foot (20m) long rotor diameter, that can rotate a full 360-degrees. This will provide the turbine with a combined rotor area of 600 m2 (1.969 square foot) making it the largest ever on a single tidal generating platform to date. 

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This innovative feature should allow the turbine to generate power without the need for the entire turbine to change direction when the tides do. It will also allow for the safe, dynamic control of the rotors that will enable power to be captured from various tidal directions without the need to yaw the entire platform. 

02 turbine blades
The blades can be rotated 360-degrees. Source: Orbital Marine Power/YouTube

According to the CEO of Orbital Marine Power, Andrew Scott, “the Orbital O2 is a low-cost solution for future commercial projects and builds on the features which made the SR2000 an industry breakthrough. This optimized turbine will unlock tidal markets around the world at a competitive price point and provide regulators and investors with a new, predictable renewable energy option.”

Once installed and proven the company has said they have the option to replace them with even larger ones in the coming years. 

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