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Aquamarine Power unveils more powerful wave energy device

Aquamarine Power has unveiled the latest design of its Oyster wave energy device which it claims can generate up to 250 per cent more energy than its previous model.

The 800kW Oyster 2 model follows Oyster 1 which was successfully deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney last summer. The new model measures 26m by 16m and is due to be built in Scotland later this year.

According to the Edinburgh-based company, while the overall design concept remains the same, each component on Oyster 2 has been improved to increase efficiency. In addition, all of the device’s hydraulic elements are now modular, so they can be changed more easily during maintenance and installation.

The most obvious change is the geometry of the machine. ‘It’s actually a very different shape,’ said Martin McAdam, chief executive of Aquamarine Power. ‘The flap now has these rounded ends on it. It is also about 50 per cent bigger in terms of material usage, but it actually delivers about 250 per cent additional power output.’

Oyster is a buoyant, hinged flap device which is attached to the seabed at around ten metres depth. The hinged flap, which is almost entirely underwater, sways backwards and forwards in the nearshore waves. Two hydraulic pistons are driven by the movement of the flap which pushes high pressure onshore to drive a conventional hydro-electric turbine. 

Earlier this year, Aquamarine Power received £5.1m of funding from the Carbon Trust’s Marine Renewables Proving Fund (MRPF) for the development of Oyster. The group hopes the funding, amongst other things, will help explore the possibility of using different materials for future designs.

‘At the moment, Oyster is made from steel,’ explained McAdam. ‘But we’re doing some materials studies where we’re looking at using either composites or composites and concrete or a combination of steel, composites and concrete. We’re even looking at things like engineered wood as a potential material for some of the construction.’

Plans to deploy three Oyster 2s at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney in summer 2011. All three devices will be linked to a single onshore 2.4MW hydro-electric turbine. The company estimates that a small farm of 20 Oyster 2 devices would be enough to power over 12,000 homes.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Great to see the energy efficiency improvement.
    But why concrete? Isn't cement one of the worst materials environmentally (requires lots of energy to produce and production produces CO2)? Wouldn't this off-set the "clean energy" it produces?

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  • I am not sure if concrete is worse than steel. Both use a lot of carbon in the production. The payback for a wind turbine is about 1 year - I wonder what it is for an Oyster?
    Is the Oyster still working in Orkney? So many of the wave guys test something and then it sinks or gets tied up on the docks like the Pelamis machines in Portugal?
    How many hours experience has the Oyster 1 had on its clock?

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  • I pull for new technologies which coudl save our living environment ( or reduce emmisions ). This project could be one of teh way ( of course for part of the World ). In many cases development stand or fall by money and there is no final solution ( efficient ). I can only hope there should be any "economic" solution at the end.....

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  • "payback for a wind turbine is about 1 year" ???
    The last one I tried to implement (vertical Axis) had a straight payback of 18 years ignoring maintenance costs.
    Oh! and a rated life expectancy of 15 years.

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  • Kevin, I think Martin refers to energy payback; embodied energy in construction and installation about equal to one year's generation output

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  • Thumbs up to anyone developing renewable energy generation systems. We shouldn't be too quick to criticise as we must understand that the first prototypes of such developments will not be the most efficient or cost-effective. They act as a stimulus for further resarch and investment in order to refine and improve designs to produce production-worthy solutions.

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  • Kevin Wilson
    Kevin - I did mean the carbon payback is about one year for a wind turbine. The financial payback on a project finance basis is much greater.

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  • When I saw the design of the Oyster I thought you lose a lot of energy due to mass inertia of the moving part of the Oyster. By lowering the weight of the moving part of the Oyster i think it is possible to extract more energy out of the waves. Big tubes of the moving part of the Oyster should be made out of glassfibre fabric. This will lower the weight of the moving part with about 40%. Due to this weight reduction the energy that can be extracted will be higher. Do not use concrete. Glassfibre is not only lightweigted compared to concrete but also very not reacting with seawater. Glassfibre with resin is almost inert.

    Please inform me how you make more than 200 % better design. Maybe I could help you improve the concept further. I am good in out of the box thinking and know al lot about production methods and materials.

    Best Regards,

    Erik van Vliet
    The Netherlands

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  • Did you know that Romania has a technical solution with the highest efficiency to capture wave power?.
    Patent 108893 entitled Dynamic Engine for Sea Wave Energy Catching. A pioneering invention. It is estimated that “dynamic engine” has the ability to catching wave energy at a rate of over 80% while the other technical solutions known worldwide, are not able to capture wave energy with a higher percentage of about 10-15%.
    Cosma Vasile Romania.

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