EC chooses Orbital Marine Power to lead FORWARD-2030 tidal energy project

Orbital Marine Power announces it will lead a pan-European consortium to deliver the €26.7 million (US$31.5 million) FORWARD-2030 project, set up to accelerate the commercial deployment of floating tidal energy.

The Fast-tracking Offshore Renewable energy With Advanced Research to Deploy 2030MW of tidal energy before 2030 (FORWARD-2030) project will run from 2021 to 2025. Between the Advisory Board and consortium members, 2030 MW of tidal energy sites have been identified and are under various stages of development.

The FORWARD-2030 project consortium will receive €20.5 million (US$24.2 million) of grant support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program to develop a multi-vector energy system that combines floating tidal energy, wind generation, grid export, battery storage and green hydrogen production.

Orbital will act as project coordinator as well as lead technology developer for the FORWARD-2030 project.

The project will see the installation of the next iteration of the Orbital turbine, integrated with a hydrogen production facility and battery storage, at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland. Project partners will design options for integrating large-scale tidal power into future net-zero energy systems while developing environmental monitoring and marine spatial planning tools for large floating tidal arrays.

During the project, Orbital will advance its floating tidal turbine design, with support from technical partner SKF, who will design and build an optimized fully integrated power train solution, designed for volume manufacture. The partners will deliver several technical innovations targeting increased rated power, enhanced turbine performance and array integration solutions.

The next-generation turbine will be deployed at EMEC’s Fall of Warness tidal test site off Eday in Orkney, where the company installed the O2 this summer. EMEC will host the demonstration, facilitate hydrogen production, deliver a comprehensive environmental monitoring program, and develop a live environmental monitoring system and test program.

LABORELEC will assess large-scale integration of tidal energy to the European energy system and develop a smart energy management system and an operational forecasting tool. The University of Edinburgh will deliver techno-economic analysis of tidal energy, and the MaREI Centre at University College Cork will address marine spatial planning issues for wide-scale uptake of tidal energy.

“This endorsement of the Orbital technology by the European Commission is a huge vote of confidence in our capability to deliver commercially viable tidal energy. We now have a focused and highly experienced consortium dedicated to the delivery of tidal energy and committed to accelerating its future uptake. This alignment of interest sets FORWARD-2030 on course to have a meaningful impact as we build towards large scale commercially viable tidal energy projects,” said Oliver Wragg, Orbital’s commercial director. “Orbital has consistently delivered step changes in cost reduction for the tidal energy sector and the FORWARD-2030 project will enable us to take that next step.”

Rob Flynn, Commercial Manager of EMEC said:  “FORWARD-2030 will show what the energy system of the future looks like by combining offshore renewable generation, with onshore wind and EMEC’s onshore hydrogen and storage facilities – all done in the novel context of an island grid. The project represents a major step forward for the commercialization of tidal energy and we are delighted it has received this significant stamp of approval from the European Commission.”