Orkney Islands buys wave energy machine

Orkney Islands Council has bought a defunct marine energy generator for £1.

The council bought the Pelamis P2 device for a nominal sum from the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), which had been assessing the technology before its manufacturer, Pelamis Wave Power, went into administration in November 2014.

It was the first wave energy machine to generate power into the national grid.

The 750KW P2 machine comprises five connected sections, which flex and bend in the waves and is 180 metres long.

The council now plans to look at alternative uses for the machine.

‘This is a piece of Orkney’s recent maritime history that would otherwise have been towed away and scrapped,’ said council leader, Cllr James Stockan.

‘One option we will look at is using it as a temporary breakwater – there are a number of potential locations across the islands where the machine could be used in this way,’ he added.

‘If in the end the best option is to scrap the device, the decommissioning costs would be covered as part of our agreement with EMEC.’

EMEC’s managing director, Neil Kermode added: ‘Pelamis were EMEC’s first clients and started testing their P1 device in Orkney in 2004.

‘This became the world’s first offshore wave machine to generate electricity into the grid, and led to the development of the P2 devices which began testing in 2010.

‘Sadly the company went into administration in 2014, ceasing further development of the Pelamis technology: a stark result of the tough economic climate that this sector faces as it endeavours to innovate pioneering new technologies to harness the power of the waves – a new and sustainable energy resource,’ added Mr Kermode.

‘As a testing centre for pre-commercial technologies, we are going to see some technologies succeed, and some that will not.

‘However, what’s important is that the colossal amount of learning that is gained from real sea testing is shared so that the next generation of wave energy technologies can prosper, and I’m glad to say many of the wave technologies developing today have benefited from Pelamis’ lessons learnt.

‘So whilst it is a little bittersweet, I’m delighted that the council are looking to utilise the device for a different means to extend its legacy even further. This is part of our history – part of the wave energy story – so it will be nice to see it preserved to some extent,’ he added.


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