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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aquamarine Power officially releases Oyster 2 design

Scottish wave energy developer Aquamarine Power has formally unveiled the design of its Oyster 2 device. The 800 kilowatt wave energy converter (WEC) will be built at an as-yet-undisclosed Scottish fabrication yard.

It will deliver 250 percent more power than its forerunner, the Oyster 1, which was successfully connected to the UK national grid at the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) in Orkney last year.

As well as being more powerful, the Oyster 2 has been redesigned to streamline installation and make maintenance and repair easier. Three of the machines will be deployed at Emec next summer via a single link to an onshore 2.4 megawatt (MW) hydroelectric turbine. “This is a significant step forward for Aquamarine Power,” says chief executive Martin McAdam.

“Our engineering and research team have taken all of the lessons learned through the design, manufacture, installation and operation of Oyster 1 and incorporated these into Oyster 2.”

Though the WEC concept is “exactly the same” according to McAdam, Aquamarine Power has honed “every element of that design, from the size and shape of the Oyster flap, to the hydraulic power take-off and pipeline system," he says. Like the original device, the Oyster 2 has few moving parts. Its hydraulic elements are modular, so they can be “swapped in and out as maintenance is required”, says the company.

The Oyster 2 is a near-shore WEC that operates as a hinged flap. Installed on the seabed, the top half flexes back and forth as waves move over it. This motion drives a pair of hydraulic pistons that pump high pressure water to shore where it turns a conventional hydroelectric power plant to generate electricity. A wave-farm made up of 20 Oyster 2 devices would provide enough energy for more than 12,000 homes, according to Aquamarine Power’s calculations.

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