The largest working hydro-electric wave energy device was launched by Queen’s University Belfast, Aquamarine Power Ltd. and the Scottish government recently, bringing the global wave energy industry one major move forward.
The device is called Oyster. It is the only hydro-electric wave energy device producing power in the world, according to Queens University Belfast.
How does it work?
Oyster pumps high pressure water to an onshore hydro-electric turbine to create power.
Queens University Belfast reports: “Oyster was first conceived out of work funded by an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research grant to Queen’s between 2002 and 2004, to develop surging power-wave devices.” Aquamarine Power Ltd., a private Scottish company, then formed specifically with the purpose of developing this technology.
Professor Trevor Whittaker from Queen’s School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, the principal investigator on this project, says: “The launch of Oyster is both a major landmark in terms of carbon-free sustainable energy production and a proud day for Queen’s University Belfast, which already has a reputation as being one of the leading wave-power research groups in the world. ”
Sustainable energy sources like wave energy are critical for addressing climate change, ocean acidification, and the countless related problems that can result from our outdated energy systems. Wave energy is taking strides forward and is looking to become a bigger name in the renewable energy sector.
Not Stopping with Oyster 1
The Queen’s University Belfast team is now starting to work on a 2nd generation Oyster to help further advance this technology. Whittaker says: “Devices such as these have the power to revolutionise the world’s energy industry and help combat climate change. And we aren’t stopping with Oyster. We are continuing to work with our partners in Aquamarine Power and the EMEC to develop the next generation of Oyster, by providing testing opportunities at Queen’s large wave tanks facility in Portaferry which is part-funded through the University’s Institute for a Sustainable World.”
While officially launching Oyster at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond briefly but powerfully pointed out the great benefits of this technology and the commitment of the Scottish government to advance it. He said:
“Our waters hold around ten per cent of Europe’s wave power potential and as much as a quarter of its tidal power potential. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) provides world-leading test facilities for Aquamarine and other companies to develop the technology needed to harness this huge untapped potential.
“I am delighted to confirm further R&D funding of almost £1m to Aquamarine Power for the development of Oyster 2, which could be installed within two years. Through our investments and initiatives such as the Saltire Prize, the Scottish Government is working to ensure we capitalise on our rich natural resources, to meet our ambitious climate change targets, to create more high-skilled green jobs and to make a substantial contribution to one of the most pressing global challenges.”
More comments, in a strong Scottish accent, by First Minister Salmond are here:
Wave energy looks to be rising in the renewable energy sector. Looks like we will see more of this in the future.
Image Credit 1: via Aquamarine Power Ltd.