17 February 2020
17th February and the club was delighted to welcome Chartered Engineer John Bowman, who is a mechanical design engineer with Orbital Marine Power Ltd.
John delivered an assured and fascinating look at the work of his company, which is developing innovative machines to harvest tidal power from the sea.
Orbital Marine Power Limited (formerly known as Scotrenewables Tidal Power) is credited with pioneering floating tidal stream turbines since the company’s formation in 2002 in Orkney, Scotland. Maximum tidal flow is experienced close to the surface, which is why floating turbines provide higher efficiency in power capture compared to machines permanently fixed closer to the sea bed.
Much development work was carried out with a first prototype machine, which paved the way for the current ‘Orbital 02’ project which is being built at the moment. It was pleasing to hear that much of the work is being done in Cupar and Dundee. It is an impressive machine: 74.2 metres long, 26.3 metres draft, effective turbine diameter 20 metres to produce 2.4MW output at 11,000 volts ac.
John’s talk also covered political and environmental considerations. Millions in crowd funding were raised from just about all parts of the UK, together with European support - with mention made of the European Marine Energy Centre. The potential for change as a result of Brexit, clearly a concern, with £10 - 15M of funding at risk.
Although viewed as a beneficial ‘low carbon’ technology, It was interesting to learn of environmental concerns likely to result from the extraction of large amounts of energy from tidal flows. It is thought there could be, not necessarily positive, implications for tidal effects in coastal areas.
The audience clearly found this topic of immense interest, with many questions asked as John developed his story. It was greatly appreciated and properly reflected in an appreciative vote of thanks proposed by Malcolm MacDonald