Next Generation Electricity from Waves

July 15th, 2011
in Background, econ_news

oyster 1 Econintersect:  On July 13, 2011 Aquamarine Power announced the completion of the next generation machine, Oyster 800, which will generate electricity powered by ocean wave action.  The device uses wave motion power to pump water at high pressure into an on-shore hydro-powered turbine, of the same type used to generate electricity from water and gravity with water reservoirs stored behind dams.  The Oyster 800 is a larger and much more efficient machine than prior designs, which started with the Oyster 1 less than two years ago.  The Oyster 1 is in the caption photo.  A photograph of the much larger Oyster 800 machine by Hazel Saunderson of Inhabitat follows the break.

Follow up:


More photos are displayed at Inhabitat.

The progression of this technology has been impressive.  From the 7/13/11 company press release:

Martin McAdam, Chief Executive Officer of Aquamarine Power commented:

“The Oyster 800 is a significant advance on our first Oyster device. Our dedicated engineering and R&D teams have designed it to be simpler, more robust and more efficient. This means we can offer 250 per cent more power at a third of the cost.

“Our goal is to make future Oysters cost competitive within the next few years. The Oyster 800 will help us gather the data that we need to deliver on that.

“A farm of just 20 Oyster 800 devices would generate sufficient power for up to 15,000 homes. There are often waves when there is no wind and marine energy offers an essential part of Scotlands future low carbon energy mix.”

The cost of electricity from the Oyster 800, although 15 times less expensive that from Oyster 1, still has a long way to go to be competitive with other generation means.  From The Engineer:

Dr. Stephen Wyatt, head of technology acceleration at the Carbon Trust, said: ‘Wave and tidal stream could provide a fifth of our electricity needs and be a major “made in Britain” success.

‘Our new analysis has found that the best marine energy sites could be cost-competitive with nuclear and onshore wind by 2025. The wave and tidal sector could generate up to £76bn to the UK economy by 2050, and could also generate more than 68,000 UK jobs.

‘Key to unlocking this potential prize is continued support and innovation for the sector as it moves from a pre-commercial to commercial development stage.’

The on-shore hydro turbine generator is only one of the ways that wave energy can be converted to electricity.  Wikipedia has a long list of the technology players.  GEI editor John Lounsbury has written about waves for power generation, with particular emphasis on the production of hydrogen.  He most recent article was published over a year ago at Seeking Alpha.

Sources:  Aquamarine Power Press Release 7/13/11, Daily Tech, Wikipedia, Inhabitat, The Engineer and Seeking Alpha


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