Scotland’s ambitious green energy drive was given a boost this week as the wave energy development firm Aquamarine Power unveiled their latest cutting edge hydro electric wave energy technology. Dubbed the Oyster 800, the device is capable of generating 250% more power than the first ‘Oyster 1’ device at only one third of the cost. Oyster 1 was connected to the grid at the end of 2009 and to date has contributed over 6000 working hours at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.
The Oyster 800 is set to be deployed over the next two years, with the EMEC transporting the device to sea before connecting it to an on shore hydro electric plant. The developments are staggering considering the short timeframe between the initial deployment of the original Oyster device and this new and improved design, and it could prove a significant step towards the country’s goal of a near total dependence on renewable energy.
The CEO of Aquamarine Power has hinted at further improvements in the future, aiming to reduce the production costs of the Oyster 800 and making the device cost competitive over the next few years. The output of the device is fairly impressive, with the company claiming that a farm of just 20 of the devices would provide enough power for 15,000 homes, and the reliability of marine power makes it the ideal partner to Scotland’s extensive wind power program. With investments from some top companies, notably Scottish electric company SSE, the future looks bright for the technology.
The apparent goal for the marine power industry in the short to medium term appears to be development and the reduction of production costs to allow the industry to become a truly viable competitor to the nuclear and onshore wind industries. Stephen Wyatt from The Carbon Trust has hinted at a bright future for the UK marine energy sector should they continue to develop at this impressive rate. The UK already has a notable lead in the marine energy sector, and Wyatt has suggested that they could corner up to a quarter of the global marine energy market. With the right investment and support they predict that the sector could be worth up to £76 billion to the UK economy by 2050, generating almost 70,000 jobs.