UK: Aquamarine Power Unveils Oyster 800, Company’s Next-Generation Hydro-Electric Wave Energy Converter


The UK’s leadership in the development of wave-generated power continued apace as wave energy developer Aquamarine Power invited Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MSP to unveil the Oyster 800, the company’s next-generation hydro-electric wave energy converter.

800kW device

At a ceremony at Burntisland Fabrications’ yard at Methil, Fife, the First Minister welcomed the advancements in wave energy conversion being made by Aquamarine Power and unveiled the 800kW device. It will now be transported by sea from the Firth of Forth to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney for installation later this summer.

The project has been supported through grant funding awarded by Scottish Enterprise and the Carbon Trust Marine Renewables Proving Fund.

Aquamarine Power installed and grid-connected its first full-scale 315kW Oyster at EMEC in 2009. This first device operated through two winters and delivered over 6000 operating hours.

Improved power output

The Oyster 800 operates in the same way as Oyster 1, but Aquamarine Power has used data and lessons learned from the first Oyster to significantly improve its power output, simplify installation and allow easier routine maintenance.

The device shape has been modified and made wider to enable it to capture more wave energy. It is now mounted on two seabed piles, rather than four to simplify installation. Oyster 800 has also been designed to make maintenance and operations easier and more cost effective.

The device was manufactured by Burntisland Fabrications at its Methil and Arnish yards.

The Oyster 800 will be the first of three devices to be installed at EMEC, with further Oysters to be deployed in 2012 and 2013. All three Oysters will be linked to an onshore hydro-electric plant to form a 2.4MW array.

Speaking at the unveiling, Scotland’s First Minister Rt Hon. Alex Salmond MSP said:

“Today is a significant day for Aquamarine Power and for Scotland’s wider offshore renewables sector, which continues to develop a wide range of low carbon energy technologies to enable us to fully harness the huge energy resources around our own coast and contribute to global efforts to expand clean, green electricity generation.

Exciting frontier technology

“Aquamarine Power has made huge progress in less than two years since its first Oyster device was connected to the grid at EMEC – proving the technology and driving down costs – a testament to the vision, commitment and expertise throughout the company. I’m delighted that the Scottish Government and our public sector partners have been able to support the progress of this exciting frontier technology.

“BiFab is another Scottish success story which, by successfully delivering the Oyster 800 device, has underlined once again the skills of its workforce and its capability to manufacture a wide and diverse range of fabrications for offshore energy developers. Scotland is in the rapids of a renewables revolution and the delivery of the new, more efficient and powerful Oyster 800 device represents a new surge towards the deployment of commercially competitive wave power arrays to deliver clean, green energy.”

Martin McAdam, Chief Executive Officer of Aquamarine Power commented:

“The Oyster 800 is a significant advance on our first Oyster device. Our dedicated engineering and R&D teams have designed it to be simpler, more robust and more efficient. This means we can offer 250 per cent more power at a third of the cost.

“Our goal is to make future Oysters cost competitive within the next few years. The Oyster 800 will help us gather the data that we need to deliver on that.

Power for 15,000 homes

“A farm of just 20 Oyster 800 devices would generate sufficient power for 15,000 homes. There are often waves when there is no wind and marine energy offers an essential part of Scotland’s future low carbon energy mix.

“I am grateful to BiFab for their immense professionalism in delivering Oyster, to the First Minister for honouring us by unveiling it and to our investors for their continuing support. Above all I would like to thank the Aquamarine Power team for their hard work and dedication in making the idea of marine energy a reality.”

John Robertson, Managing Director of Burntisland Fabrications commented:

“We are delighted to be involved with Aquamarine Power as the manufacturer of this leading and innovative solution for wave energy. The challenge for all companies operating in the renewables sector is bringing the products to market at a competitive value, and the ability to deliver large quantities of units on an annual basis.

“Oyster 800 is the next step in demonstrating this excellent product in wave technology.

Leading supplier of wave energy devices

“We are very impressed with the team at Aquamarine Power and their proactive approach in development, design engineering and the manufacturing of the Oyster 800. We are confident that Aquamarine Power will be a leading supplier of wave energy devices in the UK and internationally.

“We wish them continued success and we look forward to a long term relationship between our companies as Aquamarine Power continues to grow from strength to strength.”

Crawford Gillies, Chairman, Scottish Enterprise said:

“This is an exciting time for Scotland’s renewables industry, and today’s announcement builds on the success that Aquamarine Power has already achieved to date.

Ambitious growth plans

“We have worked closely with the company to support its ambitious growth plans and innovative products.

“We know there is a huge global appetite for clean and sustainable energy and, with companies like Aquamarine Power, Scotland is clearly demonstrating its leadership in wave energy innovation.”

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Head of Technology Acceleration at The Carbon Trust, said:

“Our support to Aquamarine Power, via the MRPF and our Marine Energy Accelerator, has been instrumental in helping the development of this device being launched .

“As a whole we believe the sector in the UK could capture just under a quarter of the global marine energy market. Our new report launched this week shows that marine energy has a bright future and is one of the UK’s most exciting green growth sectors and one where the UK has a real lead.

Over 68,000 jobs

“Wave and tidal stream could provide a fifth of our electricity needs and be a major ‘made in Britain’ success. Our new analysis has found that the best marine energy sites could be cost competitive with nuclear and onshore wind by 2025. The wave and tidal sector could generate up to £76bn to the UK economy by 2050, and could also generate over 68,000 UK jobs.

“Key to unlocking this potential prize is continued support and innovation for the sector as it moves from a pre-commercial to commercial development stage.”

A jack-up barge is currently stationed at EMEC’s Billia Croo site, just north of Stromness, and has begun drilling piles into the seabed to provide foundations for Oyster.

The installation of the Oyster 800 will see the device being fixed to the seabed around 500 metres from the shore. This will be followed by a commissioning process which will see it connected to an onshore hydro-electric generator via subsea pipelines.


Source: Aquamarine Power, July 13, 2011;