Technology:  How Oyster wave power works

Oyster wave energy machine in operation at Orkney

Aquamarine Power's Oyster wave power technology captures energy in nearshore waves and converts it into clean sustainable electricity.  Essentially Oyster is a wave-powered pump which pushes high pressure water to drive an onshore hydro-electric turbine.

Wave power is generated by wind blowing over the surface of the ocean far out at sea.  The action of the wind transmits energy into waves.  These waves can travel vast distances with little energy loss before breaking on the shore.  Our Oyster device is designed to harness this energy and convert it into electricity.

Mechanical offshore device

The Oyster wave power device is a buoyant, hinged flap which is attached to the seabed at depths of between 10 and 15 metres, around half a kilometre from the shore.  This location is often referred to as the nearshore.

Onshore electricity generation

Oyster's hinged flap, which is almost entirely underwater, pitches backwards and forwards in the nearshore waves.  The movement of the flap drives two hydraulic pistons which push high pressure water onshore via a subsea pipeline to drive a conventional hydro-electric turbine.

In the future, subsea pipelines will connect multiple Oyster wave energy devices to a single onshore plant.  Ultimately Oyster will be installed in wave farms of several hundred connected devices generating hundreds of megawatts of electricity.

Nearshore location

By locating Oyster in the nearshore, we are able to capture a high proportion of the energy available in the ocean whilst avoiding the severe storms which occur further out to sea.

Oyster features and benefits

Simple

  • Mechanical offshore device
  • Minimal underwater moving parts
  • No control system, gearbox or shut-down mode
  • No complex offshore electronics

Survivable

  • Hinged flap ducks under largest waves
  • Nearshore location
  • Robust offshore structure
  • Operates even in storm conditions

Shore-based electricity generation

  • Keeps electricity out of the water
  • Minimal ecological impact on marine environment
  • Easy to access
  • Reliable proven hydro-electric plant

Milestones

  • 2003Scale model testing of Oyster begins
  • 2005Aquamarine Power established to commercialise Oyster
  • 2008Fabrication of first full-scale Oyster 1
  • 2009 - 2011 Oyster 1 sea trials
  • 2011Fabrication of Oyster 800
  • 2012Oyster 800 sea trials commence

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