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European Commission backs floating tidal energy project with Orbital and SKF

Published:  29 September, 2021

The innovative Scottish technology developer, Orbital Marine Power (Orbital) will lead a pan-European consortium to deliver the €26.7m FORWARD-2030 project, set up to accelerate the commercial deployment of floating tidal energy, with SKF as a key partner.

The project will see the installation of the next iteration of the Orbital turbine, integrated with a hydrogen production facility and battery storage at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. Project partners will design options for integrating largescale tidal power into future net zero energy systems, whilst developing environmental monitoring and marine spatial planning tools for large floating tidal arrays.

Orbital will act as project coordinator as well as lead technology developer for the FORWARD-2030 project.

During the project, Orbital will advance the company’s pioneering floating tidal turbine design, with support from technical partner SKF, who will design and build an optimised fully integrated power train solution, designed for volume manufacture. The partners deliver several technical innovations targeting increased rated power, enhanced turbine performance and array integration solutions. These innovations will reduce the cost of Orbital’s sector-leading technology even further. The next generation turbine will be deployed at EMEC’s Fall of Warness site off Orkney, where the company has already installed the O2, the world’s most powerful floating turbine, this summer. Once installed next to the O2, the new turbine will be part of the world’s most powerful floating tidal array.

EMEC will host the demonstration, facilitate hydrogen production, deliver a comprehensive environmental monitoring programme, and develop a live environmental monitoring system and test programme. LABORELEC will assess large scale integration of tidal energy to the European energy system; develop a smart energy management system and an operational forecasting tool. The University of Edinburgh will deliver techno-economic analysis of tidal energy; and the MaREI Centre at University College Cork, will be responsible for addressing marine spatial planning issues for wide scale uptake of tidal energy.

Michael Baumann, business development manager, Marine and Ocean Energy at SKF said, “We are enthused and excited about the opportunities presented by the funding from the European Commission for this project. We are proud to be part of this exciting journey with Orbital, developing technology and providing integrated power train solutions for environmentally friendly tidal power. FORWARD 2030 will be a great steppingstone in demonstrating commercial and technical competitiveness of tidal energy and is ultimately set out to provide technology readiness for serial production.”

Commenting on the contract, Oliver Wragg, Orbital’s commercial director said:

“This endorsement of the Orbital technology by the European Commission is a huge vote of confidence in our capability to deliver commercially viable tidal energy. We now have a focused and highly experienced consortium dedicated to the delivery of tidal energy and committed to accelerating its future uptake. This alignment of interest sets FORWARD-2030 on course to have a meaningful impact as we build towards large scale commercially viable tidal energy projects.”

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