Scotland Sinks Another Multi-Million Dollar Grant Into Marine Power Hopeful

Orbital Marine Power has become the latest start-up to receive multi-million dollar backing from the Scottish Government.

The firm's floating twin tidal turbine system is one of a string of marine power generation technologies to win the backing of either the Scottish Government in Edinburgh or the UK government in London. The Floating Tidal Energy Turbine, dubbed the O2, can exploit the flow of the tide in both directions.

“The O2 project will demonstrate how this emerging industrial sector has the ability to deliver new jobs and open up diversification opportunities for the UK’s supply chain in a growing global market whilst pioneering solutions for a zero-carbon future," said Andrew Scott, CEO at Orbital.

The £3.4 million grant, part of the £10 million Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund, will be used to build a 72-meter prototype. The 2MW system will then be installed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.

“We have established a world lead in marine renewable technologies and this project represents a significant step forward in technological development," said Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse. "We are delighted this landmark turbine, designed by an innovative Scottish company, will also be built in Scotland," he said before touting the sector's export potential.

“However, the large scale roll-out of both tidal and wave energy technologies has been harmed by the UK Government’s decision in 2016 to abandon its commitment to provide ring-fenced funding support. UK ministers must act quickly to provide the revenue support this exciting and innovative sector requires to achieve its economic potential," added Wheelhouse.

The prototype will be built in Dundee using Scottish steel and “key components” produced by a steel fabrication firm in Fife. Scotland has become a focal point for onshore and offshore wind in the UK. The latter sector has been criticized for failing to develop a local supply chain. There are hopes that the situation will be bettered by the nascent tidal and wave power sectors. So far, marine power has suffered from several false starts.

A number of firms have reached a similar stage in development as Orbital Marine Power without progressing much further in what is a challenging sector.

Aquamarine Power's near-shore Oyster system was designed to oscillate in the water driving a generator on the shore. The Pelamis system used a series of long steel tubes filled with hydraulic fluid to drive pistons as they moved relative to one another on the surface of the water. Both firms collapsed. Heavyweight industrials such as ABB, Rolls Royce have taken interests in some firms as the search for a scalable, reliable and cost-effective tech continues.

Source: Forbes
Date: Aug 28, 2019