Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power is developing Oyster wave power technology to capture energy found in nearshore waves and convert it into clean sustainable electricity.
The first full-scale 315kW Oyster was officially launched by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney in November 2009, when it began producing power to the National Grid for the first time.
In 2009, in a ground-breaking development for the marine energy sector, Aquamarine Power signed a joint venture partnership agreement with SSE Renewables to co-develop up to 1GW of marine energy sites using Oyster technology. In March 2010 the joint venture partnership was awarded exclusive rights by The Crown Estate to develop the first 200MW Oyster wave farm.
The device has withstood a full winter in the harsh Atlantic waters off the coast of the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland and has delivered over 6000 operating hours.
Aquamarine Power is now developing the next generation Oyster 2 and will install a single Oyster 2 device this summer with a further two devices to be deployed in 2012. Together the three Oyster 2 devices will form a 2.4MW array connected to a single onshore generating plant.
The Oyster wave power device is a buoyant, hinged flap which is attached to the seabed at around ten metres depth, around half a kilometre from shore.
This hinged flap, which is almost entirely underwater, sways backwards and forwards in the nearshore waves. The movement of the flap drives two hydraulic pistons which push high pressure water onshore to drive a conventional hydro-electric turbine.
The Oyster has been designed to survive because of the following features:
- By locating Oyster near the shore, the device naturally avoids the massive storm forces which other devices are exposed to in the open ocean.
- By the time a storm reaches the Oyster, the waves are a maximum 12 metres high. These big waves push the Oyster towards the seabed before it bobs back up to meet the next wave. As the waves get bigger it is pushed further under the water allowing the excess energy in the wave to flow over the top of the Oyster.
This inherent survivability means there is no need for complex control systems or for Oyster to shut down in stormy conditions – it will continue to produce power, whatever the weather.
Working with Aquamarine Power
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