Its journey has only just begun as it heads steadily north to Orkney tonight. But the direction of travel for renewables in Scotland with the launch of Orbital O2 is nothing other than gathering momentum.
Even as world leaders declared promises to keep or break and pledges to spur on action at US President Joe Biden’s Earth Day summit, as politicians in Scotland vie for our votes at the Holyrood elections, others are getting on with the job.
The pioneering 2MW tidal turbine launched successfully in Dundee today, all 680-tonnes of the engineering marvel expertly shepherded on a submersible barge from the Forth Ports quayside in an operation overseen by Osprey Heavy Lift.
To the casual observer it could have looked every inch the set of a space age movie, as the jumbo jet sized construction got under tow. It will travel north for commissioning before being connected to the European Marine Energy Centre.
There, as the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, it will have the ability to generate enough clean, predictable electricity to meet the demand of around 2,000 UK homes and offset approximately 2,200 tonnes of CO2 production per year.
Orbital Marine Power Ltd’s CEO, Andrew Scott, said: “This is a huge milestone for Orbital; the O2 is a remarkable example of British cleantech innovation and the build we have completed here is an inspiring display of what a UK supply chain can achieve if given the opportunity – even under the extraordinary pressures of a pandemic.”
The O2 turbine started construction in the second half of 2019, with about 80% of it being achieved thanks to UK suppliers. The steel work was made in Scotland, anchors from Wales and blades from the south of England.
Anchored in the Fall of Warness at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC, where tidal speeds can exceed 3m/s, the O2 will be connected to the local electricity grid and will help power the communities of Orkney cleanly and sustainably from the waters that flow past their islands.
In economic terms, it is thought the project supported around 80 jobs. TEXO Group built it in Dundee, a city looking to reinvent itself, with today’s event marking the first vessel launch from Dundee since ship building ended over 40 years ago.
Chris Smith, MD of TEXO Group said: “The O2 programme has given us a significant opportunity to demonstrate our multi-disciplinary capabilities, and our proactive approach to working collaboratively with clients. We firmly believe that the transition to a net zero environment will deliver a range of opportunities to the UK’s engineering and fabrication sectors and we are very proud to see Orbital’s O2 turbine launched today.”
John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council said: “I’m very proud of the role that Dundee has played in helping to deliver this pioneering tidal turbine and congratulate the team at Orbital Marine and TEXO for their incredible efforts during the hardest year in recent memory.
“Orbital Marine’s incredible piece of engineering will play a pivotal role in showcasing this technology and helping Scotland to achieve its ambition in tackling the climate emergency, further propelling Dundee into a city which is transforming itself into a hub for renewables and innovation.”