Aquamarine introduces Oyster 800 wave energy device

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Aquamarine Power’s next-generation Oyster 800 wave energy device has been unveiled today at a ceremony in Scotland.

The 800kW device, which was revealed at Burntisland Fabrications’ yard at Methil, Fife, 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.

Aquamarine’s Oyster concept is a buoyant, hinged flap that is attached to the seabed approximately half a kilometre from the shore. Movement of the flap pushes high-pressure water to drive an onshore hydro-electric turbine.

The Oyster 800 operates in the same way as Oyster 1, but Aquamarine Power said it has used data and lessons learned from the first Oyster to improve its power output by 250 per cent, simplify installation and allow easier routine maintenance.

The company said the device’s 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 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.

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

Dr Stephen Wyatt, head of technology acceleration at the Carbon Trust, said: ‘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 more than 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.’

The installation of the Oyster 800 will see the device being fixed to the seabed around 500m 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.