Inverness-based AWS Ocean Energy has concluded the initial testing of a half-scale AWS-III wave power generator. The test programme took place at Lyness in Orkney, Scotland, and will help the company develop its energy technology for variable applications – small-scale use (for example, in offshore fish farms) through to utility-scale power generation.
“This is a major milestone for AWS, being the first large-scale deployment of our AWS-III technology," said Simon Grey, AWS chief executive. "The next phase of our work will now focus on the benefits and resilience of our AWS-III technology. The support of the Scottish and UK Governments, as well as investment from industry, has been essential to our work to date.”
AWS Ocean Energy's AWS-III technology uses a simple and resilient diaphragm to capture wave power and turn it into pressurised air that turbines can use to generate electricity. The diaphragms, made out of ‘bullet proof vest material’ represent a major technical advance that will allow much cheaper wave power machines in the future, according to Grey.
“The great thing about our technology is that most of it is already proven in other applications," he explained. "If we can get the diaphragms right then the rest should be straight-forward. Our work at Lyness has been all about demonstrating the durability of the diaphragms and providing data to further refine our designs.”
Looking ahead, AWS Ocean Energy its technology can be scaled to suit a range of applications from isolated power for aquaculture and remote communities, as part of breakwater installations through to a full 2.5MW utility-scale offshore power system. The company’s test programme will continue in parallel with its work to develop its first commercial product: an integrated power system designed specifically to meet the power demands of offshore fish farms in Scotland and worldwide.
“Both cost of fuel and carbon footprint are a key consideration for salmon producers, and our power system will allow them to meet the ever-more stringent environmental specifications imposed by supermarkets and customers," Grey explained. “We are really excited about the opportunity and have some great partners engaged to drive this forward. Proving the technology at smaller commercial scale whilst continuing to develop the utility scale solutions in the background makes a lot of sense.”
AWS Ocean Energy’s research and development work has benefited from support from both Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, including “WATERS 1” funding programme for early stage marine energy projects and financial support via the Scottish Investment Bank’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund.