Scottish tidal turbine developer, Orbital Marine Power, based on the Orkney Isles in the North Sea, and Swedish drivetrain solutions provider SKF have been awarded research funds of €1.2 million by the European Ocean Energy Era-Net Cofund to support a pitch-controller project that will improve the performance of Orbital Marine’s floating tidal turbine.
The 2-megawatt Orbital O2 is due to be installed on the firm’s existing berth at the European Marine Energy Centre.
Toplote (targeted optimal pitch module for floating tidal energy) will deliver a controller for floating tidal turbine blades, allowing the blades’ pitch angle to be varied to manage dynamic loading and optimise power performance.
Orbital Marine chief executive Andrew Scott said: “Pitch controllers have enabled the dramatic increases in turbine and blade scale that we’ve seen in the wind energy sector over the past decade resulting in significant energy cost reductions.
“We are delighted to be working with SKF on this project which will unlock similar improvements for our technology, where we are targeting up to a 50-per-cent increase in yield from our machines, bringing our performance firmly in line with more established technologies.”
The pitch module will be engineered next year and incorporated for performance testing on Orbital Marine Power’s commercial demonstrator turbine, the Orbital O2 2 MW, scheduled to be installed at the European Marine Energy Centre on Orkney by 2020.
The module is due to control two sets of blades with 20-metre rotor diameters, the largest the company has installed to date.
The pitch modules are due to be delivered by SKF’s new advanced-solutions factory in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
Michael Baumann, marine energy chief at SKF, said: “We see tremendous potential for floating tidal technology due to its low installation and operating costs, and are delighted to be bringing our experience to bear on delivering a key enabling solution to drive cost reductions and accelerate the rollout of Orbital Marine’s floating tidal technology.”
Orbital Marine, formerly Scotrenewables Tidal Power, is focused on the development of tidal-energy turbine technology with the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of tidal power.
The company, based in Orkney and Edinburgh, has 23 staff.
In 2016, the company launched the SR2000 tidal stream turbine, which has produced more than 3 gigawatt/hours of electricity over its 12-month test programme.
SKF supplies bearings, seals, mechatronics, condition monitoring, lubrication systems and services to around 40 industries to provide reliable rotation with the wind, marine, hydroelectric and offshore oil and gas industries.
Orbital O2. Picture credit: Orbital Marine Power