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Wave energy - the way of the future

22nd April 2009

Marine energy deal biggest in history of industry
In a landmark deal, Dubliner and chief executive of Aquamarine Power Martin McAdam has agreed to supply wave and tidal energy to Airtricity. In what McAdam has called "the biggest deal in the history of marine energy", Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power will form a joint venture with the firm that has become Scottish and Southern Energy's renewable energy division.
The two companies will work to gain planning consent for wave and tidal energy sites in the UK and Ireland. McAdam's company could then provide Airtricity with up to one gigawatt of electricity produced by wave or tidal generators by 2020. This could power up to 500,000 homes.

Marine energy deal ... contd.

Aquamarine has identified a number of potential sites for wave or tidal farms off the west coast of Ireland, in southern England and in Orkney, off the west coast of Scotland. The two companies would then aim to develop between eight and 12 of these to a commercial scale, each capable of generating about 100MW of power.
McAdam is raising the stakes in the European marine energy race by holding talks to agree similar supply deals with power firms here and in Portugal.
The deal comes as Aquamarine Power prepares to install and trial the first full scale version of its wave generator this summer. Its Oyster Wave Power system is fixed to the sea bed and provides an ‘oscillating flap’ that’s pushed under water as it is hit by the waves. The movement pumps water at high pressure to a conventional hydroelectric system onshore that then generates electricity.
Unlike many floating wave energy systems the technology includes a simple mechanical device with only a small number of moving parts, McAdam says. As a result it should prove highly reliable, and can operate even in storm conditions. The firm aims to have a commercial version of the system available within three years, hopefully coinciding with the first wave of project approvals.

Other power players
• Mainstream Renewable Power has signed two deals at a total cost of E1.37 billion. Eddie O’Connor’s company are building two wind farms, one in South Africa and one at Alberta, Canada.
• Cork-based firm Ocean Energy intends to raise E20 million to commercially develop its ocean energy buoy technology

The force of Firth
Between the Orkney Island and mainland Scotland, namely the Pentland Firth, is home to some of the fastest tides in the world – up to 30kph (or 16 knots, if you’re a salt). Now a Norwegian company, Statkraft, is planning to build a 150 megawatt tidal energy project there to power a mooted data storage plant, though experts say that the Firth’s tidal race could potentially generate much more power than that. However, it’s hoped the plan doesn’t go the way of Pelamis, a wave-generation project set up off the coast of Portugal last year. When one of the partners in the project went bankrupt, it was the first of several problems culminating in the project being cancelled.

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