Andrew Scott CEO of Orbital Marine Power states, “this marks a major milestone for the company.” The Orbital 02 is a 680-ton wave turbine billed by the company as “the most powerful in the world.” Anchored off the northeastern coast of Scotland, the turbine resembles a cross between a submarine and jet fighter. Actually, it looks really cool. I’m sure we will see a version of this machine in the next Star Wars movie. I could easily picture Darth Vader’s grandson flying this thing around the universe wreaking havoc.

On a serious note, let’s get granular. The Orbital 02 took 15 years of development and 18 months to build. It’s a 2 MW, clean, renewable energy power plant. In  terms: it could power up to 2,000 homes for the next 15 years. It works by utilizing the natural occurring tides of any body of water. The stronger the tide, the more power it can produce. In fact, that’s why the company chose this region of Scotland’s coast. The tides there are some of the strongest on earth.

Unlike wind turbines or solar panels whose power generation is subject to weather conditions and time of day, the tidal turbine operates almost continually. The turbines spin in one direction when the tide comes in, and then spin in the opposite direction when the tide goes out. (Picture an upside-down windmill in the water.) This reliable clean energy source is vital for power companies who need access to on-demand power known as Base Load Power. This reliability justifies the additional cost as compared to wind and solar. I’m sure as technology continues to evolve, the cost of marine energy will decrease as well.

Anchored in 125 feet of water in the Fall of Warness, the Orbital 02 is connected to the electric grid via an underwater cable. Scotland’s energy secretary Michael Matheson said, “with our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally-placed to harness the global market for marine energy while helping to deliver a net zero economy.” The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the site in May to bless the vessel when it officially went online. They were given some expensive whiskey to toss over the side. After finishing the ceremonial ‘whiskey blessing’ I wonder who drank the rest of the bottle. My money goes on the Duchess.


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