SCOTLAND SET TO CAPTURE WAVES, TIDES
The North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean at Scotland. The waves are intense – and generate a lot of energy. A wave energy technology that can endure the ocean’s battering, reliably harvest the energy and get it to the UK grid will turn Scotland into an energy-producing powerhouse.
Scotland’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) ocean energy testing center was installed to identify that technology. Testing is ongoing. Scotland also has an enormous tidal energy potential and there are competing technologies to harvest it as well. Wave energy is absorbed at the ocean’s surface and away from the coast. Tidal energy is more efficiently collected on the seabed, nearer shore.
Both wave and tide energies are more predictable and consistent than other New Energies. The collecting devices (turbines, pistons, etc.) do not need to be huge like offshore oil platforms or offshore wind because moving water has a high energy density. Once thought too costly to collect, unprecedented world energy demand, skyrocketing energy prices and global climate change concerns about emissions-generating energies now make ocean energies an appealing option.
Because no technology has proven itself, there is plenty of aggressive competition for Scotland’s resources. James Ives, CEO, startup Open Hydro: "This is an oil field that will never run out."
Artist's concept of seabed-stationed tidal energy turbines, one of many unproven technologies. (click to enlarge)
Scottish Power; Scotland wants to become a global force in marine energy – a market that could be worth billions
Matthew Boyle, March 12, 2008 (Fortune via CNNMoney)
European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Pelamis (funded by General Electric), Scottish Power
- The wave and tidal energy potential of Scotland, especially its Orkney Islands, is valued at billions of dollars. Companies are experimenting with competing wave and tidal energy technologies to harvest the energy and reap the rewards.
- EMEC is the first operating test facility for wave and tide energy.
- Scottish Power will install 4 Pelamis units, one of the first commercial wave farms in the world.
The Pelamis wave energy sea monster set for installation off the Orkneys. (click to enlarge)
- Scotland is expected to be producing 1,300 megawatts of ocean energy by 2020.
- GE invested $2.6 million in Pelamis in 2006.
- The Orkney Islands sit at the meeting place of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the north of Scotland.
- Pelamis is based in Edinburgh.
- EMEC connects to Scotland’s grid via undersea cables.
click to enlarge
- Waves travel thousands of uninterrupted miles across the Atlantic before hitting the Orkney Island coasts.
- Tidal flows are more than eight knots.
- The EMEC floating laboratory cost $29.5 million.
- The Scottish Power wave farm will have 4 460-foot long Pelamis units, each with a 750 kilowatt capacity.
A different tidal energy concept. (click to enlarge)
Colin McNaught, renewable-energy expert advisor to the Scottish government: "The [ocean energy] sector is still in its infancy…"