Installation of the foundations at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in the Orkney Islands will start later this year, according to RWE.

Installation and testing of the turbine will be a major step forward in the joint venture’s plans in the marine energy market. “The experience gathered here in terms of technology and economic efficiency will provide us with important information for our future growth in this sector,” said Prof Fritz Vahrenholt, CEO of RWE Innogy.

He added: “Following successful tests, we intend to install further marine tidal current power plants with an installed capacity of up to 100MW mainly off the British coast by 2020.”

When operational, the turbine will feed around 1800MWh/year of electricity into the UK grid. The project – which has won £1.7M of financial support from the UK government – will cost a total of £11.8M.

The marine current tidal turbines developed by Voith Ocean Current Technologies will be installed completely under water and anchored to the seabed. They are directly driven, using a permanent magnet generator, and employ seawater as a lubricant for the bearings.

Such features make them well suited to the rough marine conditions, says Voith Hydro Ocean Current Technologies, which is currently installing a 110kW marine current turbine off the South Korean coast.