A new 30MW tidal energy project is set to be developed in Orkney Waters as Orbital Marine Power announced it has been awarded an Option Agreement from Crown Estate Scotland in the Westray Firth.

Orbital also confirmed it has a grid connection in place to service the project, which is located adjacent to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) facility, where Orbital has already deployed the 2MW O2 under commercial operation.   The Option Agreement for Westray would equate to approximately 12 Orbital devices installed across the site.

The construction of the new project would be expected to result in over £120 million of domestic supply chain spend and create hundreds of jobs across construction and around a dozen new permanent jobs locally to provide operations and maintenance service, Orbital said.

The Orbital team is engaged with stakeholders and is progressing environmental studies, with a view to reaching consent application as soon as possible. 

“As the UK looks to accelerate the decarbonisation of its energy system, we firmly believe tidal projects can bring unique benefits while harnessing a perfectly predictable and secure source of renewable energy,” commented Andrew Scott, CEO at Orbital Marine Power. “We’re proud to be building that vision in Orkney with this investment in our Westray Project.”

These are exciting times for tidal stream energy. Progress with Orbital’s Westray project is a vote of confidence in the potential here in the isles and demonstrates exactly why expanding grid capacity for Orkney has been so important,” added Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland. “This good news is also evidence of the need for a more robust strategy from the government on tidal stream deployment, including continued and expanded backing in the next round of Contracts for Difference funding. We need to continue to ramp up development in the years to come.”

Renewable projects in Orkney were recently given a boost by Ofgem announcing it is minded to approve a new 220MW transmission connection, to be built from the Scottish mainland to service renewable power exports from the islands.

Following the award of contracts for difference (CfDs) in last year’s AR4 process, Orbital is already targeting the installation of three more of its tidal turbines at the EMEC site, alongside the O2, to expand its tidal generation capacity in the coming years.