It measures 74 metres long, weighs 680 tonnes and could play a key part in Scotland’s future in renewables.
The sun was shining as Orbital Marine Power’s striking yellow tidal turbine was launched from the Port of Dundee.
Manufactured by Texo Fabrications in Dundee, the Orbital O2 is the world’s most powerful tidal turbine.
Costing around £10 million, it will generate 2MW of power from tidal currents near the Orkney Islands, enough to power 2,000 homes.
The launch operation was managed by Osprey Heavy Lift. It involved the machine being transferred into the River Tay using a submersible barge.
It will undergo commissioning before being connected to the European Marine Energy Centre.
The launch marks the first vessel launch from Dundee since ship building ended over 40 years ago.
Project provided jobs and work to UK economy
Orbital’s chief executive Andrew Scott said around 80% of the cost of the project had been spent in the UK.
He said: “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.
“Over 80% of the cost has been spent in the UK economy and we expect that’s probably resulted in 70 to 80 FTE jobs, direct and indirect. This is radically different from some other forms of renewables.
“When you talk about building back greener, there’s not a better example than what we’ve achieved with the O2.”
Hopes for more orders
The Scottish Government contributed £3.4m towards the project costs under the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund. Through Scottish Enterprise it is a shareholder in Orbital.
Mr Scott said he was optimistic of securing more orders once the technology had been demonstrated.
“It’s a shame to sail out of Dundee without more machines behind us,” he added.
“We would like to build more and that allows the supply chain to improve and reduce costs.
“We want to make this into a commercial business where we can support sustainable jobs working in a noble and positive endeavour to decarbonise the economy.
“At the moment we import huge amounts of power generating technology from Europe and that’s a lot of jobs. We think we can play a similar role exporting our technology.”
Machine caused Kingsway to close
The O2 turbine started construction in the second half of 2019. Gray Fabrication in Cupar was involved in creating the body of the hull.
These were delivered in parts by lorries to Texo under a police escort which temporarily closed the Kingsway in Dundee.
Texo undertook the assembly and fabrication over the course of around 16 months.
At times 40 staff were on the project, working on shifts around the clock.
Montrose-based Rybay Corrosion Services spent around 1,000 hours painting the vessel.
Council leader praises project
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said he was proud at the role Dundee had played.
He said: “I 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.
“It will help Scotland 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.”
The O2 has twin 1MW power generating nacelles at the end of retractable leg structures designed to give low-cost access to all major components for servicing.
The floating structure is held on station with a four-point mooring system. Each mooring chain has the capacity to lift over 50 double decker buses.