The rising tide in clean power: wave energy
December 7, 2011
Begun in 2005, Aquamarine Power has developed an innovative mechanical wave device called the Oyster, which uses wave power to drive mechanical power generators onshore. This near-shore approach to marine power has minimal impact on the environment and has received support from the Scottish government, but requires support from private investors to take it to the next level. “The opportunity presented by wave energy is absolutely phenomenal,” says McAdam.
The simplicity and accessibility of a mechanical device like the Oyster begs the question ‘why isn’t this technology mainstream as yet?’; McAdam says that the first patents for marine power were granted over 200 years ago, so there have clearly been challenges in harnessing wave energy. “Our device tackles some of the key challenges,” he says, which include ‘survivability’ in the relentless conditions of a storm, and the ‘fatigue cycle’ that occurs each time a wave hits the device (and that is 3 to 5 million waves per year).
In terms of developing the Oyster (now in its latest iteration, the Oyster 800, which can generate 800 kilowatts of power), McAdam says Aquamarine Power is lucky to be based in Edinburgh. “The Scottish government has made a huge commitment to wave energy and we’ve gotten extremely good support from the government in trying to establish this fledgling industry.” But creating a mainstream commercial endeavour requires not just public support, but private investment, he says. “What we’re looking for now is not just money…we are looking for someone who is going to help us move to the next stage of evolution. A financial investor who has certain other skills…We need money and a visionary,” says McAdam. “We think we have a great vision for this industry, and we need someone who is going to help us realise that vision.”
This interview was recorded during TBLI Conference Europe 2011, held in London, November 2011, organized by the TBLI Group.
Audio transcript (mp3)
Low-res video (mp4)