British wave power company Aquamarine Power says it will have technology that can create power from small waves commercially available by 2014.
Aquamarine’s Oyster wave energy converter can be used near shore in depths of approximately 10–12m.
It can also operate in harsh seas as it has minimal moving parts and all of its electrical parts are onshore.
The Oyster system features a hinged flap linked to the seabed at a depth of nearly 10m. Every passing wave moves the flap, which drives a hydraulic piston to supply high-pressure water to an onshore turbine that produces electricity.
A full-scale demonstrator of the device has now been successfully used at a testing berth at the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre.
Work is in progress to link Oyster to subsea pipelines that will supply high-pressure fresh water to an onshore turbine.
Once Oyster commences power generation, a full-scale two-year offshore testing programme will begin.
Oyster has already demonstrated it can generate power on a commercial scale during onshore testing at the New and Renewable Energy Centre, close to Newcastle.
Aquamarine has signed an agreement with Scottish and Southern Energy’s renewable energy division Airtricity to develop marine energy sites with up to 1,000MW of installed capacity using Oyster technology by 2020.
Aquamarine raised £10m in its initial round of fundraising to finance the Oyster testing programme. An additional £40m is required for commercialisation.