Fresh blow for wave energy sector

Pelamis's generators had been due to harness power of waves. Picture: Contributed
Pelamis's generators had been due to harness power of waves. Picture: Contributed
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THE beleaguered marine energy sector in Scotland was dealt a fresh blow yesterday, after plans for a generation project off the Shetland Islands came to an end.

Swedish utility Vattenfall said liquidators had been appointed to Aegir Wave Power, its joint venture with failed Edinburgh wave power firm Pelamis.

Vattenfall said the decision to wind up the business – which didn’t have any employees – came after a six-month review of its ocean energy interests and as it looks to focus investment in wind energy. Its existing Scottish projects include the Clashindarroch wind farm near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, which began producing power last month.

But Vattenfall stressed it continued to believe Europe’s wave-energy sector had “long-term strategic potential despite its current challenges” and said its research and development team in Stockholm would maintain a “watching brief” on the sector.

Bjorn Bolund, who is responsible for ocean energy in Vattenfall’s research and development team, said the firm had “high hopes for wave power off Shetland” when it established Aegir with Pelamis in 2009. “Unfortunately, the wave sector has not developed as planned,” he said.

“Set against Vattenfall’s pressing need to decarbonise our own power supply, it has proved difficult to continue investing heavily in wave power in the absence of a commercial technology.”

Bolund stressed that Vattenfall continued to have an interest in Scotland’s wave energy sector. He said: “Vattenfall’s six-month review of our work in the wave-power sector concluded that there remains long-term potential – not least because of the strong support provided by the Scottish Government and the unrivalled resource off the Scottish coast – and so we will watch the sector very carefully in the hope that there will be progress toward securing a commercial technology.”

Pelamis had been one of four firms competing for the £10m Saltire Prize launched by the Scottish Government to promote marine renewables. One of the other firms, Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power, announced plans to cut its workforce in December.

Had it gone ahead, the first phase of Aegir would have involved an array of Pelamis floating generators anchored off the west coast of Shetland, with a capacity to generate up to 20 megawatts. When the joint venture was launched, it had been hoped the first power would be generated in 2014.

Last month, it was announced that research data gathered by Pelamis has been bought by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) after reaching a deal with administrators KPMG.

HIE was acting on behalf of Wave Energy Scotland – a new body set up to support the country’s wave-energy sector and fully funded by the Scottish Government.

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