Wave energy project closer with EU funding deal

Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager for industry body Scottish Renewables. Picture: Contributed
Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager for industry body Scottish Renewables. Picture: Contributed
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RENEWABLE energy firm Aquamarine Power believes its Oyster wave-energy converter has moved closer to becoming a commercial product after receiving an €800,000 cash injection from the EU to improve the technology’s performance.

The EU Horizon 2020 grant, equivalent to £580,000, was awarded to the firm and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM), and the new three-year Innowave programme will investigate ways to optimise Oyster’s energy capture and economic performance.

A spokesman for Edinburgh-based Aquamarine told The Scotsman that the firm aims to install its third full-scale prototype this decade and its first pre-commercial array in the early 2020s. It has already built and operated two full-scale Oyster machines at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.

The news came as tidal-power business Atlantis Resources announced the relocation of its corporate head office to Edinburgh from Singapore, as its MeyGen project off the coast of Caithness moves into the construction phase.

This provides an additional boost to Scotland’s renewable energy sector, which has faced no shortage of hurdles including a series of cuts by the UK government. Leith wave power company Pelamis went into administration at the end of last year, followed less than two weeks later by Aquamarine Power saying it was cutting more than half of its workforce to reach less than 20.

Regarding the EU grant, Aquamarine Power chief executive Paddy O’Kane said the collaboration with NUIM will help it concentrate on cutting costs and bettering performance as it seeks to become “the world’s leading supplier of utility-scale wave farm power stations”.

Professor John Ringwood of Maynooth University said: “This is a very exciting project, which has the potential to greatly advance the field of wave energy and progress its development as a commercially viable energy source.”

He added that marine energy has huge potential as an environmentally friendly and cost-effective power source.

Lindsay Roberts, pictured, senior policy manager for industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland leads the world in the development of wave energy devices, and it’s fantastic to see that the European Union’s commitment to the technology remains strong.

“Aquamarine Power’s Oyster has generated some great results from its testing to date, and further work on power take-off will help ensure that it remains on course for commercialisation.”

The grant follows news last month of £2 million funding from Wave Energy Scotland to Aquamarine Power, Bosch Rexroth and Carnegie Wave Energy to complete testing of their scale prototype and deliver the design and specification for a full-scale prototype WavePOD offshore power take-off system.