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Pioneering island tidal turbine is successfully launched at Dundee

By Calum MacLeod

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The Orbital O2 leaves Dundee to begin its journey to Orkney.
The Orbital O2 leaves Dundee to begin its journey to Orkney.

The world’s most powerful tidal turbine, the Orbital O2, has begun its journey to its Orkney home following a successful launch today (Thursday, April 22) from the Port of Dundee.

The 680-tonne and 74m long tidal turbine was transferred from the Forth Ports quayside facility in Dundee into the River Tay using a submersible barge. This was the first vessel launch from Dundee since ship building ended over 40years ago.

The O2 will now be towed to the Orkney Islands where it will undergo commissioning before being connected to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) where it will become the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine.

Andrew Scott, the chief executive of the O2's owner Orbital Marine Power Ltd, 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.”

O2 has the ability to generate enough clean, predictable electricity to meet the demand of around 2000 UK homes and offset approximately 2,200 tonnes of CO2 production per year.

The O2 turbine started construction in the second half of 2019 with approximately 80 per cent UK supply content, including Scottish steel work and main manufacturing, anchors from Wales and blades from the south of England. The build of the O2, which was managed by TEXO Fabrication, is estimated to have supported over 80 jobs within the UK economy.

The Orbital O2 leaves Dundee to begin its journey to Orkney.
The Orbital O2 leaves Dundee to begin its journey to Orkney.

TEXO managing director Chris Smith commented: “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 he was very proud of the role the city had played in helping to deliver this pioneering tidal turbine and congratulated 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,” he added.

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