Queen’s University Belfast announced the launch of the Oyster wave energy converter, the world’s largest working wave-energy system, in Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
The university said the device, a 194-ton converter bolted to the ocean floor at the European Marine Energy Center, is producing power by pumping high-pressure water to its onshore hydroelectric turbine.
Developed by Aquamarine Power Ltd., the Oyster unit is designed to capture energy from near-shore waves. The system includes an oscillating pump fitted with double-acting water pistons. Each wave activates the pump, delivering high-pressure water by pipeline to an onshore turbine that generates electricity.
All electrical components of Oyster are onshore, making it durable enough to withstand rough seas.
A farm of 20 Oysters would provide enough energy to power 9,000 three-bedroom family homes, said Trevor Whittaker, a professor at Queen’s School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering.
“The concept of Oyster came about through research in our wave-tank facility at Queen’s,” Whittaker said. “The launch of Oyster is both a major landmark in terms of carbon-free sustainable energy production and a proud day for Queen’s University Belfast.”
Aquamarine said it recently raised 10 million pounds (US$16.2 million) for further development of its Oyster technology. (HydroWorld 9/23/09)
“Devices such as these have the power to revolutionize the world’s energy industry and help combat climate change,” Whittaker said.