Energy fim Aquamarine owed Scottish Enterprise £6m

AQUAMARINE Power, the Edinburgh wave power company which ceased trading in Nov­ember after administrators failed to find a buyer, has left debts estimated at more than £11 million.

Aquamarines attempts to develop its Oyster device proved costly
Aquamarines attempts to develop its Oyster device proved costly

The biggest creditor of the company is Scottish Enterprise, which is owed £6.2 million according to a statement of the firm’s financial affairs filed at Companies House.

ABB Technology Ventures, the venture capital investment arm of engineering giant ABB, is owed £2.5m and SSE’s investment fund, SSE Ventures, £1.27m, according to the document.

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the Orkney-based test facility for the wave and tidal energy sector, also has a claim of £1.3m for decommissioning obligations rel­ated to its Oyster device which is on trial there.

The company’s total assets, including cash at the bank, patents and trade marks for its technology, are estimated to realise just £612,000.

The Edinburgh-based firm, which employed 14 people, called in administrators from BDO last month to manage the business and seek a sale or fresh investment.

Despite a comprehensive marketing process no offers were made for the business as a going concern.

The device had won a clutch of industry awards and the company had secured funding of £18m in two major investment rounds between 2009 and 2011. In September the company had received an £561,600 cash injection from the European Union in an attempt to improve the performance of its Oyster wave energy converter.

When administrators were called in, Aquamarine’s chief executive, Paddy O’Kane, said the technology which had been developed by the firm was at the forefront of the industry but the company’s woes had “underscored the financial as well as technical challenge in bringing an entirely new form of energy generation to commercialisation”.

Aquamarine had employed more than 50 staff at its peak but had seen more than half its workforce leave a year ago in a significant downsizing of the business.

The company was aiming to install its third full-scale prototype, having already built and operated two full-scale Oyster machines at EMEC.

Earlier this year, Scotland on Sunday revealed that fellow Edinburgh wave power developer Pelamis owed more than £15m, including almost £13m to Scottish Enterprise, when it fell into administration at the end of last year.

With its assets – including intellectual property connected to its “sea-snake” wave energy device – estimated to be worth just £836,000 in total, unsecured creditors of the Edinburgh-based firm are expected to suffer a major shortfall on their debts.

According to a statement of the company’s affairs prod­uced as part of the administration process, Scottish Enterprise’s debt was £8 million when the company went into administration, but after interest charges and fees the total owed was £12.86 million.

A new body, Wave Energy Scotland, was established by the Scottish Government in the wake of the collapse of Pelamis to try to further technology developed in the sector in Scotland.