Alstom has taken a 40% equity share in Scottish renewable energy company AWS Ocean Energy, representing Alstom’s entry to the wave energy market. Alstom will be a shareholder alongside Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1 and Scottish Investment Bank, who continue their support of AWS.
The move complements the existing activities of Alstom’s Ocean Energy business in Nantes, France, where the company is developing its 1 MW commercial-scale tidal turbine prototype, the BELUGA 9.
Wave energy, like tidal energy, is CO2-free and has the greatest potential of all existing marine technologies with a worldwide resource estimated between 200 and 300 GW, according to Alstom.
Created in 2004, AWS Ocean Energy is currently focusing on the development and delivery of its AWS-III wave energy converter, a floating device with a rated power output of 2.5MW. The AWS-III system is a 12-sided floating device which sits on the surface of the ocean and uses the action of the waves to produce electricity. The rising and falling motion of the waves forces air forward and backwards through a number of air turbines installed inside the device. The turbines are directly connected to generators that produce electricity.
Support from the Scottish Enterprise-administered WATERS fund (Wave and Tidal Energy: Research, Development and Demonstration Support) enabled a 1:9 scale model of the AWS-III to be tested in Loch Ness in 2010.
The UK Government has the ambition to raise the share of electricity generated from renewables from 6.7% today to around 30% by 2020. Wave and tidal energy together has the potential to meet up to 20% of the UK’s current electricity demand, representing 30-50 GW installed capacity, with the UK enjoying around 50% of Europe’s total tidal energy resource. Alstom has a strong commercial footprint in the UK and says it is committed to the region’s fast-growing renewables industry, notably through the development of a 6 MW offshore wind turbine and delivery of three onshore wind farms.
Scotland is at the forefront of marine energy development, creating the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney in 2003, and with over 1.6 GW of lease already awarded for tidal and wave projects in Scottish waters. The Scottish First Minister has recently announced the target to produce the equivalent of at least 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020.
Portugal, Spain and France are also showing a strong interest in marine energy and wave energy in particular.
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