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Project aims to boost tidal turbine power

MAXBlade to increase the length of turbine blades to 13 metres, making them the longest in the world.

23rd January 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Edinburgh, Scotland


The €10 million MAXBlade project – jointly funded by the European Union and UK Research and Innovation – aims to deliver a range of innovations to improve the performance of tidal turbines and reduce costs.

It will investigate the full lifecycle of tidal turbine blades, from materials, manufacture and operation to decommissioning and recyclability.

The project plans to increase the area harnessed by Scottish tidal technology company Orbital Marine Power to generate power  – known as the rotor swept area – by 70%, to more than 1,000 square metres.

MAXBlade will also seek to increase the length of the turbine blades from 10 to 13 metres, making them the longest of their kind in the world. The team says that boosting blade length will have the single greatest impact on reducing the cost of tidal energy.

Modelling by the University’s Institute of Energy Systems estimates £40 billion could be generated for the UK economy by harnessing wave and tidal energy.

The project, supported by the university’s commercialisation service, Edinburgh Innovations, will involve a two-year design and development phase, followed by an 18-month build.

During the build, the blades will undergo advanced structural testing at the FastBlade facility, a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and Babcock, based at the Arrol Gibb Innovation Campus at Babcock’s Rosyth facilities in Fife.

The technology will then undergo two years of real-world testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. Two of Orbital Marine Power’s O2 floating platforms – the world’s most powerful tidal turbines – will each be fitted with four of the newly developed blades.

The team aims to generate 120,000 hours of performance data that will be assessed by EMEC and project partner Tecnalia, a Spanish research and technological development centre.

“As the first large-scale project for FastBlade, MAXBlade is fantastic example of the capability generated when we combine cutting-edge university research with industry,” said  Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations. “We are proud to have supported our academics and helped build and develop this partnership project, which can now help the world meet its sustainable energy challenge,”

“Orbital is delighted to be involved with so many great partners on this truly cutting-edge project,” added Orbital Marine Power CEO Andrew Scott.

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