Leading Scottish tidal turbine developer, Orbital Marine Power, together with global drivetrain solutions provider SKF have been awarded research funds totalling €1.2 million (UK£1.07m) 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.

TOPFLOTE, “Targeted Optimal Pitch module for Floating Tidal Energy”, will deliver a controller for floating tidal turbine blades allowing the blades’ pitch angle to be readily varied in real time to manage dynamic loadings and optimise power performance.

Orbital Marine CEO, 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% increase in yield from our machines, bringing our performance firmly in line with more established technologies”.

The pitch module will be engineered through 2019 and incorporated for performance testing on Orbital Marine Power’s upcoming commercial demonstrator turbine, the Orbital O2 2MW, scheduled to be installed at the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney in 2020.   The module will control two sets of blades with 20m rotor diameters, the largest the company has installed to date.

The pitch modules will be delivered by SKF’s recently established advanced solutions factory in Gothenburg, Sweden. With SKF’s extensive engineering and product portfolio, it has the right capability to meet the industry’s technological challenges and requirements.  The TOPFLOTE collaboration represents a significant evolution of SKF’s long standing engagement and support of Orbital Marine’s technology development programme.

Michael Baumann, Business Development Manager Marine and Ocean Energy 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 the Orbital Marine’s floating tidal technology.”