Approval has been given by the Scottish Government to move forward with plans to install up to 50 wave energy devices off the north-west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The device is called the Power Oyster 800 and it has been developed by Aquamarine Power. See the original story about the Oyster 2 Device here.
This device has been under trial at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) in Orkney since 2012 and that testing is continuing as further development of the Oyster devices continues. Aquamarine Power hopes that the devices might begin to be installed by late 2017 or early 2018 and that the installation might continue to progress over the following decade. Should the planned 50 wave devices be installed as part of this project it could produce as much as 40MW of electricity.
While the Oyster devices are proving to be successful in their job of producing sustainable energy there is the question of the infrastructure that needs to be in place for the project to be connected to the national grid.
The fact that the Scottish Government has given its approval for the development is one of the milestones that is very significant for the wave power industry as a whole. The announcement was made by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen.
The Chief Executive Officer of Aquamarine Power, Martin McAdam, said “The goal of our industry is to become commercial, and to do this we need two things – reliable technologies and a route to market.
“Our engineers are currently working hard on getting the technology right and we now have a site where we can install our first small farm, with a larger-scale commercial build out in the years ahead.”
He added: “We believe wave energy presents an important opportunity for the Isle of Lewis. Our development could provide significant economic benefit to the local community.
“In Orkney, for example, we have spent over £5 million in the local economy during the installation of the first two Oyster devices and have worked with over 40 local companies as part of our commitment to sourcing much of the services and expertise we require locally.”
Aquamarine Power has provided an animation which represents how the Oyster 800 device works and how it might be connected to the mainland.
How the Oyster 800 Wave Power Device Works
The energy generated by nearshore waves is captured by the Oyster device and this is converted into clean electricity that is sustainable. The movement of the waves allow the large hinged flap to move forwards and backwards so that it acts like a pump to push high pressure water which can drive a hydro-electric turbine that is located onshore. The device is attached to the seabed and is designed to sit at depths of between 10 and 15 metres at a distance of around half a kilometre from shore.
The majority of the Oyster 800’s hinged flap is underwater and the exaggerated forward and backward movement serves to drive two hydraulic pistons and these pump the water through an underwater pipeline to the turbine.
In the case of a farm where multiple Oyster 800 devices are installed, the subsea pipelines will connect all of the devices to a single onshore plant. Technically this type of farm could be scaled up until it is capable of generating hundreds of megawatts of electricity.
The proposed location of these devices and their nearness to the shore is beneficial to the success of the project in a couple of ways. The first is that it will keep the costs down to connect up to the hydro-electric plant and the second is that it will avoid the severe storms which tend to be located further out to sea.
The marine renewable energy industry in Scotland has been significantly boosted by the support from the Scottish Government. Not only that but the wave power industry, which has not yet brought anything to commercial scale production will also greatly benefit.