Europe, Marine, Renewables, Strategic Development

Orbital Marine Power and SKF partner on world’s most powerful tidal turbine

Orbital has announced a strategic contract with SKF for the supply of the fully integrated power trains on its upcoming O2 2MW floating tidal turbine, which will become the world’s most powerful tidal turbine when it enters operation at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney in 2020.

This announcement builds on an existing agreement, which sees the blade pitching hubs for the machine also being supplied by the Swedish engineering and manufacturing organisation.

Orbital has been working with SKF for the supply of critical bearing and sealing components since 2011; in both its 250 kW units and the SR2000-2MW unit, which produced in excess of 3 GWh of electricity over its initial 12-month continuous test programme at EMEC.

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However, the commercial supply arrangement for the O2 2 MW turbine is a departure from the historical component supply model to one where SKF is providing Orbital fully integrated drivetrain solutions covering both nacelles and pitching hubs for the world’s most advanced tidal turbine.

Talking about the relationship, Orbital Marine’s CEO, Andrew Scott, said: “At Orbital Marine we are about delivering a total, innovative solution that enables low cost tidal stream energy. Commercialising our technology will create an entirely new global market for power generation equipment and services and we are delighted to be working with SKF to unlock this.”

Michael Baumann, business development manager Marine and Ocean Energy at SKF said: “We are a technical partner to advanced tidal turbine device developers for almost a decade now and are delighted that our long-term partnership with Orbital evolves to the next major step from providing main mechanical sub-systems to fully integrated power train solutions. We see tremendous potential for floating tidal technology due to its low installation and operating costs and are keen to create value-adding solutions for our customers.”

Orbital’s contract with SKF follows recent contract awards as part of the overall build programme for the O2; these include the O2 manufacturing contract to TEXO Group in Dundee and an anchors contract to FAUN Trackway in Anglesey.

The announcement follows the Scottish Government’s award (in August 2019) of a £3.4m ($4.4m) grant to Orbital Marine; this money is drawn from the Scottish Government’s £10m ($13m) Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.