Orkey, UK [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] The wave energy industry took a major stride forward last week when the world’s largest working hydro-electric wave energy device, known as ‘Oyster’, was officially launched by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MP, MSP at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. The device, developed by wave energy company Aquamarine Power, is currently the world’s only hydro-electric wave energy device which is producing power.
The Oyster launch took place at EMEC’s Billia Croo site near Stromness, where the device was installed this summer. Scotland’s First Minister was on site to switch on Oyster for the first time.
Oyster is now producing power by pumping high pressure water to its onshore hydro-electric turbine. This will be fed into the National Grid to power homes in Orkney and beyond. A farm of 20 Oysters would provide enough energy to power 9,000 three bedroom family homes.
“I’m delighted to see first-hand the full-scale Oyster now installed and operating offshore. This is a key milestone for Aquamarine Power and for Scotland’s marine renewables sector,” Salmond said. “Scotland’s potential renewables capacity is estimated to be around 60GW. Our waters hold around ten per cent of Europe’s wave power potential and as much as a quarter of its tidal power potential. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) provides world-leading test facilities for Aquamarine and other companies to develop the technology needed to harness this huge untapped potential.
Oyster is Aquamarine Power’s first demonstration-scale wave energy device. Its performance will now be monitored and the results from the testing will provide a basis for the design of the next-generation commercial-scale Oyster. Oyster is designed to capture the energy found in nearshore waves in water depths between 10 and 16 meters. The benefit of Oyster is its simplicity. There are minimal moving parts and all electrical components are onshore, making it robust enough to withstand the rigors of Scotland’s harsh seas.