Abundance Investment, the UK’s leading peer-to-peer ethical investment company, announced last week that it has closed its largest fund-raise to date, securing £7 million for Scottish tidal energy company Orbital Marine Power for the construction of what will be the world’s most powerful tidal stream turbine.
Orbital Marine Power, formerly known as Scotrenewables Tidal Power, is a Scottish tidal energy company based in Orkney that will use the £7 million to build its first production model of its Orbital O2 2 MW tidal stream turbine — an innovative floating tidal turbine platform that can be towed, installed, and easily maintained.
In 2016, the company launched its SR2000 tidal stream turbine, the world’s most powerful, which produced in excess of 3 gigawatt-hours of electricity over its first 12-month test program at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland. The SR2000 operated continuously for 12 months and survived some of the worst winter storms in recent years, and on its own supplied the equivalent annual electricity demand of approximately 830 UK households.
The new Orbital O2 turbine — which the company hopes to build over the next 12 months — is made up of a 73-meter long floating superstructure which supports two 1 MW turbines on either side.
“We are delighted with this funding result; it’s a terrific endorsement of our technology and a clear signal that the UK public is hugely supportive of seeing tidal energy brought into the domestic and global energy mixes,” said Andrew Scott, CEO, Orbital Marine Power. “The whole team at Orbital Marine are excited to be moving forwards with this flagship project and deliver the first O2 unit for costs similar to offshore wind and so provide the basis for a new and sustainable industry. This a journey we are now honoured to be taking with thousands of new investors, thanks to Abundance.”
The £7 million was raised through Abundance’s unique investment platform which opens the door for people to invest in individual projects that have a direct impact on the environment or society on top of providing significant financial returns. Approximately 2,300 investors participated in this particular investment round at an average of around £3,000 each — though, support was unsurprisingly strong from investors in Scotland, who invested at a higher average of around £4,500 each.
“2019 promises to be the best year yet for the environmental and social investment sector, and it feels significant that our largest investment to date reached its £7 million target on New Year’s Day,” explained Bruce Davis, co-founder and joint Managing Director, Abundance. “The UK can rightly claim to be a world leader in tidal generation technology and our customers have backed it enthusiastically.”
The move comes at the same time that the UK renewable energy industry is looking for long-term support from the government, and in some cases not finding it.
“We’re awaiting the government’s strategic response to the Green Finance Task Force report which will outline initiatives to support the growth of green finance investment in the UK,” explained Bruce Davis, speaking to me via email. “The great success of the Orbital Marine fundraise demonstrates the significant appetite from UK investors for innovative green projects like this one.”
“The UK currently has over 1,000 MW of tidal stream energy sites under lease with up to 15,000 MW of long term capacity,” added Andrew Scott, who similarly spoke with me via email. “With appropriate early stage market support, our floating tidal technology is forecast to rapidly converge with the generating costs of other renewable energy technologies due to its low installation and maintenance costs and the ability to generate extremely high yields due to energy density of tidal stream energy.”