Keith Findlay, 10th July 2009
Ecosse Subsea Systems and the Robert Gordon University are working on technology which they hope will create a wave-energy device with enough output to power a small town.
According to the Aberdeen firm, the project is breaking new ground in that it aims to produce two to five megawatts from a single machine.
Other wave-power technologies typically involve more than one device – often many – being used together to generate anywhere near the same output.
Another challenge faced by wave-power developers is to produce a machine that can stand up to harsh weather.
Ecosse specialises in personnel, recruitment, consultancy and technology services for the subsea oil and gas sector and offshore renewable-energy markets.
Its bosses believe their new system – based on “current North Sea expertise” – is robust enough to withstand the most severe of conditions at sea.
Mike Wilson, the Altens-based firm’s managing director, said the technology used existing components and techniques but in a different way.
He added: “The generated power will be exported for onshore use, where the energy will be fed into the National Grid.”
Mr Wilson said the project was still in its early stages but could potentially create hundreds, if not thousands of Scottish jobs in servicing the machines after installation.
He added: “We estimate a 25-year life span, which will be extendable with refurbishments.”
Ecosse employs 25 people and Mr Wilson said this was likely to grow as the technology was further developed towards the construction of a market-ready device.
The initiative has recently attracted a £5,000 grant from the Scottish Funding Council, which distributes more than £1.5billion each year to support teaching, learning, research and other activities in colleges and universities north of the border.
Alan Owen, a chartered energy engineer at the university’s centre for research in energy and the environment, said: “When Mike Wilson approached us two years ago with the wave-power technology idea we were keen to get involved. This initiative represents cutting-edge technology that could be in use in the next two years.”
Early work on the project at RGU includes wave-tank testing. Once the final study results are compiled, Ecosse will move on to construction and installation.