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Renewable Energy

Energy for free from the sea

by JW Dowey 16 Sep 2013
Energy for free from the sea

Those waves, off the Scottish north coast have been feared for thousands of years. Now they can be admired for that power; Credit: © Aquamarine Power

Martin McAdam of Aquamarine Power in Edinburgh has expressed his delight at receiving funding from the Scottish government. He reckons Aquamarine have proved the worth of their Oyster in the most powerful storms (nine-metre waves, to be exact). "I hope that this award will help us to attract the major investment we require to develop a commercially competitive wave energy technology." Such investment in the Oyster 800 seems to enable progress at least to the 801!

The Oyster wave-energy device is their chosen mode of extraction for the Atlantic's motion off the Orkney Islands. As it is, it weighs 200 tons and sits just offshore in 10-12 m of water. The large buoyant flap in the structure simply responds to wave action to drive hydraulic pistons. These transmit the energy to an onshore station which will soon handle the production of the 50 Oysters.

Fergus Ewing MSP, who is Scotland's Energy Minister, announced the plans for the first 50 Oysters as an extension of Scotland's magnificent array of hydro-electric schemes, added to solar and wind power to provide self-sufficiency in renewable energy for the country by 2020.

The energy distribution company, SSE, need to install the undersea cable to the Orkneys in 2017, so that the National Grid can absorb the benefits in 2018- just in time! Fergus expresses his hopes that with 10% of the prospective wave energy for the whole of Europe, Scotland's unique renewable credentials (unless you count Iceland) will use more of the £18 million Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund.

Meanwhile, further south, another device, the Renewable Wave Power, multi-axis wave-energy converter is under early development. This can absorb energy from multi-directional wave movement and can utilise more energy from Atlantic waves. This new invention by Sam Etherington of Brunel University has just won the UK Dyson Award, using a chain of linked pistons that flex at the high and low points of each wave. A little more development and the RWP can swim with the Oysters.

Roll out the renewables!


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