Orkney Islands To Host Oyster Hydro-Electric Wave Power Devices

Aquamarine Power's Oyster hydro-electric wave energy converter
Aquamarine Power’s Oyster hydro-electric wave energy converter.

A joint venture partnership between Aquamarine Power and SSE Renewables has been granted exclusive development rights to an area of the seabed off the coast of Orkney as part of the world’s first commercial leasing programme for wave and tidal energy generation projects.

The partnership has been granted an agreement for a lease which gives them exclusive rights to develop the area for the proposed deployment of the first commercial farm of Aquamarine Power’s Oyster hydro-electric wave power devices in 2013.

The partnership will now work closely with The Crown Estate, Orkney Islands Council and other key stakeholders to obtain necessary consents for the phased deployment of the farm and to ensure the project is developed sensitively and with due consideration to the local environment and community.

The development area has the potential to see Oyster devices deployed in small clusters spaced over a stretch of coastline off mainland Orkney running from Costa Head in the north to Neban Point in the south-west. The proposed wave farm would have an installed capacity of 200MW and could provide enough energy to power around 190,000 homes.

Today’s announcement was made by The Crown Estate as part of its Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters leasing round, which opened in November 2008 and attracted over 40 bids for seabed leases from 20 marine energy developers and utilities.

The partnership between Aquamarine Power and SSE Renewables is part of an agreement between the two companies to develop up to 1GW of Oyster wave farm sites in the UK and Ireland by 2020 — the largest commercial agreement in the wave energy sector to date.

Martin McAdam, Chief Executive Officer of Aquamarine Power said: “The Crown Estate’s leasing round is a significant milestone for the marine energy sector and is a key step towards the industry’s commercialisation, enabling it to meet its full potential to deliver clean sustainable power as well as highly skilled long-term employment.”

“Harnessing the power of the sea to produce clean energy will play a crucial role in our future energy security and in meeting the UK’s climate change objectives. Deploying Oyster on a commercial scale has the potential to generate millions of pounds for the Scottish and UK economy and to create hundreds of jobs on a local and national level.”

“Aquamarine Power and SSE Renewables will continue to work in close consultation with the local community and key stakeholders to ensure the sustainable and responsible development of our proposed Oyster project.”

Stephen Wheeler, Director of SSE Renewables, said: “As the leading generator of renewable energy in the UK, SSE is committed to building on our existing portfolio to develop viable wave sites using industry-leading marine technologies.”

“We believe our partnership with Aquamarine Power will not only deliver a significant contribution to the renewable energy mix but also enhance Scotland and the UK’s position as world leaders in marine energy. We look forward to continuing to work closely with The Crown Estate, statutory bodies and local communities to develop the site.”

Roger Bright CB, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said: “I am delighted to announce that Aquamarine Power and SSE Renewables have been awarded the Brough Head site to develop 200 MW of wave power in Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, the world’s first commercial wave and tidal leasing round.”

“The 1.2GW of installed capacity proposed by the wave and tidal energy developers for 2020 shows the world that marine energy can produce meaningful amounts of electricity and offers a real alternative to conventional power production. The long term prospects for this growing industry are exceptionally bright, with vast amounts of untapped energy in the seas all around the UK. It will create new businesses and jobs as well as attracting inward investment.”

Aquamarine Power is a market-leading wave power technology developer, established in 2005 to commercialise the Oyster hydro-electric wave energy converter. Oyster captures energy found in nearshore waves and converts it into sustainable zero-emission electricity. The company has secured over £30m of private and public sector capital to date, including continued investment from leading shareholder, SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy plc) and £5.1m from the UK Government’s Marine Renewables Proving Fund (MRPF).

The first 315kW Oyster 1 was grid-connected at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland in November 2009. The next generation 2.5MW Oyster 2 is scheduled for installation at EMEC in 2011.

SSE Renewables is the UK’s leading generator of renewable energy. The company now has over 3,500MW of renewable energy capacity (onshore wind, offshore wind, hydro and dedicated biomass) in operation, under construction or with consent in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It has a 47% stake in Aquamarine Power and an agreement with the company to develop sites in the UK and Republic of Ireland capable of hosting up to 1,000MW of marine energy capacity by 2020 using Oyster technology. SSE is committed to owning and operating 4,000MW of renewable energy capacity in the UK and Ireland by the end of 2013 and continues its 5 year investment programme that will see £3bn invested in renewable energy projects by 2013.

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