The Orbital O2 is designed for powerful tidal generation in isolated locations and 'mega-farms' alike (Composite credit: Orbital Marine Power/ Professional Engineering)

UK missing opportunity as it swims against tidal energy

Andrew Scott, chief executive at Orbital Marine Power, said it was “a new benchmark for the tidal industry”.

In 12 months, a single SR2000 floating turbine off the coast of Orkney generated over 3GWh – more than the whole Scottish wave and tidal sector managed in the 12 years up to 2016. It supplied energy for the equivalent of 830 households, weathering the worst winter storms for years in the process.

The announcement last August was a celebration for Orbital, which changed its name from Scotrenewables Tidal Power shortly afterwards in a reflection of the company’s global ambitions. There was also positive news elsewhere in the UK tidal sector – Meygen, for example, recently generated 8GWh from four tidal turbines in the Pentland Firth between Orkney and the mainland.

The sector’s success painted a picture of a rosy future for a sea-bound UK. A government-cited estimate put the country’s share of European tidal resources at 50% – and, after years of dedicated R&D, British technology existed to tap it. But there were stormy seas ahead.

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