Orbital Marine Power's floating tidal energy turbine nears splash in US waters

Orbital Marine Power’s floating tidal energy turbine nears splash in US waters

Scotland-based renewable energy company Orbital Marine Power has been confirmed as the technology partner for Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO)’s proposed site off Blakely Island in Rosario Strait, Washington State.

Source: Orbital Marine Power

Building on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2021, the news follows the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shortlisting two marine energy projects to receive $6 million for the development of a tidal energy research, development, and demonstration pilot site.

At the end of the Phase 1 term, one of the two companies will be funded to move forward with the development of a full project.

If it is chosen at the end of the ten-month process, OPALCO proposes the deployment of an Orbital O2 floating tidal energy turbine in Rosario Strait in the San Juan Islands to provide a local power supply and further assessment will be completed as part of Phase 1.

“It’s positive to see OPALCO reaching this stage in an important funding process, and for their proposals to be firmly based on the deployment of Orbital technology,” said Andrew Scott, CEO of Orbital Marine Power.

“Whilst there is still substantial work to be done before we float our technology in US waters, this milestone underlines growing global appetite for the pioneering progress we are demonstrating in the floating tidal stream space.”

According to Orbital Marine Power, the Rosario Strait was identified as a viable site with strong tidal flows in proximity to OPALCO infrastructure for interconnection, with minimal environmental impacts.

Foster Hildreth, Managing Director of OPALCO, said: “There are no single or simple solutions for figuring out the complexities of our future energy supply in a decarbonised world. OPALCO is exploring all possible technologies to build reliable, sustainable and carbon-free resources to meet the energy needs of San Juan County. Floating tidal stream energy, as delivered by the Orbital O2, is one of those technologies that could make sense for our islanded territory.”

Orbital Marine’s first O2 machine is deployed in the waters off Orkney, and it has been exporting electricity as the world’s most powerful tidal turbine to the UK grid since July 2021.

It completed operational financing in 2022 and is expected to offset around 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year and power 1,700 homes.

The Scottish company was also named Euclaire Tidal’s technology partner at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE). The agreement covers one 2.4MW O2X tidal energy device to be deployed at the FORCE facility in the fast-flowing waters of the Minas Passage.

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