The development of the first subsea commercial wave farm by a Scottish company took another important step forward today (Tuesday February 20th 2007) with news that Scottish wave energy company, AWS Ocean Energy Ltd. based in Alness, Ross-shire, has secured £2.128 million funding from the Scottish Executive. The funds will be used to develop and commercialise AWS’ Archimedes Wave Swing, one of the few proven technologies worldwide for generating clean, renewable electricity from the ocean’s waves. The support for AWS is part of a £13 million support package for Scottish marine energy developers funded by the Scottish Executive, which aims to establish Scotland as a world leader in marine energy.
The Archimedes Wave Swing is submerged at least six metres below the sea surface which, as well as removing visual impact and hazards to shipping, avoids high storm impacts. Compared to most other wave energy devices, the Wave Swing also takes up a proportionately smaller area of the sea, in relation to power generated. Following a successful pilot project in Portugal, the £2.128 million will be used to develop a pre-commercial model of the device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
AWS believes that this work will lead directly to the construction of the first mini wave farm of Archimedes units in Scottish waters, by the third quarter of 2010, expanding within 12 months to 20 units. Contract discussions for this are already underway with a leading utility. Invisible from the surface, the Archimedes device is a cylinder shaped buoy, moored to the seabed. Passing waves move an air filled upper casing against a lower fixed cylinder, with the up and down movement converted into electricity. With a low environmental impact and high power density, Archimedes can survive the most violent storms and downtime is minimised through maintenance at sea.
Rigorous testing at EMEC will help AWS build a greater understanding of the device’s performance in an extensive range of conditions, with an emphasis on demonstrating long term survivability and reliable power generation. Around 25 metres high and 12 metres in diameter, the commercial units will be rated at 1 Megawatt generating around 3,000 Megawatt hours of electricity in a typical year. That is similar to one large wind turbine and equivalent to the electricity demands of around 300 homes. The main early markets for Archimedes will be Scotland, Portugal and Spain.
News of the Scottish Executive award caps a tremendous year for AWS. In April 2006, the company secured £2 million investment from RAB Capital, a London based hedge fund, allowing expansion up to the current headcount of eight at its base in Alness, Ross-shire. Significant development of the technology has been achieved and, more recently, AWS announced the appointment of four highly experienced non-executive directors to support the company’s on-going growth.
Simon Grey, chief executive, AWS Ocean Energy Ltd. said, “This very welcome funding support from the Scottish Executive provides the essential next step in the development of our technology, in order to open the door to subsequent commercial sales. There is a real sense of momentum building now with the Archimedes device, it is selected consistently as one of the world leading technologies in its sector and we are very confident that its future commercial exploitation will help establish Scotland as a global leader in marine energy.”
Taylor Keogh Communications
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