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Oyster - the world's largest working hydro-electric wave energy device

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November 26, 2009

The Oyster wave energy device was launched this week by Scotland's First Minister Alex Sal...

The Oyster wave energy device was launched this week by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond MP, MSP, pictured here with Aquamarine Power CEO Martin McAdam

The world’s largest working hydro-electric wave energy device has been officially launched in Scotland. Known as Oyster, the device, stationed at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) Billia Croo site near Stromness, was installed this year and is, at present, the world’s only hydro-electric wave energy device which is producing power.

Oyster produces power by pumping high pressure water to its onshore hydro-electric turbine which feeds into the national grid to power homes in nearby Orkney and beyond.

The device is wave energy company Aquamarine Power’s first demonstration-scale wave energy device. The company believes that a farm of 20 Oysters would provide enough energy to power 9,000 three bedroom family homes.

Oyster is designed to capture the energy found in near-shore waves in water depths between 10-16m (33-54ft). There are minimal moving parts and all electrical components are onshore, making it robust enough to withstand the rigors of Scotland’s harsh seas.

Speaking at the launch, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MP, MSP, who was given the honor of switching on Oyster, said: “I’m delighted to see first-hand the full-scale Oyster now installed and operating offshore. This is a key milestone for Aquamarine Power and for Scotland’s marine renewables sector.

“Scotland's potential renewables capacity is estimated to be around 60GW. Our waters hold around ten percent of Europe’s wave power potential and as much as a quarter of its tidal power potential. The 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 (US$1.66 million approx.) to Aquamarine Power for the development of Oyster 2, which could be installed within two years.”

Minister Salmond added that the Scottish Government was working to ensure it capitalized on its rich natural resources that would help it meets its ambitious climate change targets and would create more high-skilled green jobs. The marine energy industry could provide as many as 12,500 jobs, contributing £2.5 billion (US$4.1 billion) to the UK economy by 2020. Marine energy such as that produced by Oyster has the potential to meet up to 20 per cent of the UK's energy demands.

Chief Executive Officer of Aquamarine Power, Martin McAdam, said: “This is a fantastic day for the wave energy industry and for Aquamarine Power. We have proved what we always believed – that wave energy can produce sustainable zero-emission electricity to power our homes. The UK has one of the best wave resources in the world. Now it also has the best technology.

He said that with the additional funding, Aquamarine Power would press ahead with the development of next-generation commercial-scale Oyster.

“This is exactly the kind of support the industry needs. With continued support of this nature we can help decarbonise our electricity supply and build a major, world-beating industry here in the UK.”

Managing Director of EMEC, Neil Kermode, said EMEC was delighted to see Oyster up and running.

“I look forward to Oyster being joined by many more machines in the coming years,” he said.

Its performance will now be monitored and the results from the testing will provide a basis for the design of the next-generation commercial-scale Oyster.

Watch a short video of Oyster in situ here or see an outline of how it works below:

11 Comments

more good news from renewables

rob yates
27th November, 2009 @ 04:25 am PST

The animated diagram appears to be showing the water flowing from left to right. As far as I understand, waves do not travel as such, but rise and fall. The water only moves due to tidal action. Is this device really working on wave, or tidal energy? The video is fairly unconvincing. The device just seems to be waggling occasionally, and does not look very efficient.

windykites1
27th November, 2009 @ 01:27 pm PST

Dear Windykites1,

I think you've missed the point. A wave is a means of transferring energy. In a water wave, the water particles move in an elliptical orbit and so there is a component that moves from left to right. I guess so it means that it is a wave energy device and not a tidal device as you have suggested. I doubt that too much scientific information should be extracted from cartoon schematics and I would imagine that the company employ more engineers than animators! Just a thought!

g100

g100
29th November, 2009 @ 06:39 am PST

Dear Windykites1,

I think you've missed the point. A wave is a means of transferring energy. In a water wave, the water particles move in an elliptical orbit and so there is a component that moves from left to right. I guess so it means that it is a wave energy device and not a tidal device as you have suggested. I doubt that too much scientific information should be extracted from cartoon schematics and I would imagine that the company employ more engineers than animators! Just a thought!

g100

g100
29th November, 2009 @ 06:39 am PST

There's no big argument here, but I think it does show that a bunch of engineers should make use of a good animator who actually understands the concepts. I would have thought that the engineers would actually have already created some pretty sophisticated 3D digital models of their machine and the moving water around it.

Windykites1 is right to complain about the animation: the illustration of water movement is totally misleading. g100 is right that surface wave water moves in a roughly circular or elliptical motion in the vertical plane in line with the wave's forward direction. It would have been much more helpful to illustrate this with curved arrows.

xodarap
30th November, 2009 @ 10:57 am PST

xodarap,

You would think that at this stage of the game we would have the sophisticated 3d digital models. However, fluid-structure interaction simulation software is relatively new, particularly when it is related to something as abstract as harvesting wave energy (well at least software that a company can run on its own computers). Codes meant for testing a vessel's hydrodynamics are just that, meant for a different purpose. Abaqus, has some fairly advanced software but even if you did that, would you be able to trust the results?

This discussion about animators and engineers collaborating is an interesting point. I think at some point the use of physics engines in video games is going to bridge to engineering. Video game simulations have to run real-time, otherwise the game doesn't work. With advancements in computer gaming systems, in particular their use of physics cards, I wouldn't be surprised if it births several new simulation techniques for engineers. Rather than a finite element approach, perhaps there is a new ability with these physics engines, maybe as an educational tool to reinforce lessons from a dynamics course.

Cool stuff about the wave generator, I'm not sure about having a ocean-hydraulic fluid seal in the highly corrosive and abrasive environment of crashing surf....... but its a start.

CreativeApex
1st December, 2009 @ 09:54 am PST

I just disagree with the statement: the world’s only hydro-electric wave energy device which is producing power.

In Sweden there was two wave power machines one was destroyed in a storm but the other one is still working www.wavestarenergy.com has been producing energy for a while now...

Mat-A-Tout
2nd December, 2009 @ 07:00 pm PST

G100, you say that the water moves in an elliptical orbit. Surely you cannot extract much power from this movement? I have not come across this idea before. I would like to see this demonstrated in a water tank with dye or particles. I do feel, that in general, these wave devices do seem a bit lame. They look very expensive to produce, and how does the energy get back to the shore? I think that tidal power is much greater than wave power.

windykites1
3rd December, 2009 @ 05:10 pm PST

Huh~ inflection of the hydrogen Electric generation is performed in the world. I am splendid.EEEEEEEIt is different if I think!!! This is the large-sized dynamo which utilized a wave! I am terrible. After all the world people advance. It is splendid to use the natural power. I feel good.

Facebook User
21st January, 2010 @ 03:41 am PST

The animation is crap...

The motion of water towards the shore cannot occur continuously. Also the floaty think is moving against the water pressure gradient when it resets... Ok cute animation, not well done...

In shallow water, as the waves crest, they transport water horizontally...

Have you ever witnessed a breaking wave.... or the surge and suck of the water before and after the wave....

I'm sure that this device is making use of the back and forth motion of the water.. up and down of the surface level.. as well (note it does say 10-16m (though this is probably a bit deep for the transverse motion of the water..)

if the 'oyster were very large, it would act as a wall, catching and damping the wave energy as it passes.... it is sort of like a Venice style barrage on a smaller scale...

MD
22nd November, 2011 @ 03:43 am PST

I live in Veraguas province of Panama. We lose power 3-5 times a week for 2-6 hours each time. If you are interested in residential testing my house is 80 feet above the ocean with a volcanic rock shelf that extends one mile off shore. I would like to volunteer my residence.

Bryanna Ferrell
4th June, 2012 @ 11:49 am PDT
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