New drive to harness wave power

Dec 10th, 2009 | By John Waller | Category: Hydro Power, Top Story
The Oyster wave power machine swings back and forth with the waves

The Oyster wave power machine swings back and forth with the waves

In a bleakly beautiful island landscape, some strange new sights are emerging.

In the turbulent waters off the shores of Orkney, in the far north of Scotland, an array of bizarre machines is being deployed in a drive to harness the power of the sea.

The European Marine Energy Centre at Stromness is playing host to nearly a dozen experimental devices designed to capture the energy of the tides and the waves.

It is too early to tell if any of them will work on a large scale or ever succeed commercially.

But during lucky breaks in Orkney’s fearsome winter weather, I got the chance to see two of the devices in action.

There is the “Oyster”, a giant flap twice the height of a double-decker bus which swings back and forth with the waves.

There is huge potential – absolutely huge amounts of energy out there

Neil Kermode – European Marine Energy Centre

Every time the flap moves, the action compresses hydraulic pumps which force water through a pipe to the shore where it drives a generator.

As we approach through a heavy swell, the bright yellow top of the flap rears up above the surface of the sea before being plunged back down by the next wave.

The machine is the work of the Scottish firm Aquamarine Power. Operations manager Frances Tierney, on board with us, says that its first few weeks have proved it can work.

“It was quite nerve-wracking installing it but we’re really pleased with how the Oyster has performed so far.”

The company’s hope is to set up “farms” of Oysters, with 2MW of electricity being generated for every three machines, according to company officials.

Read the article at: BBC News – New drive to harness wave power

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