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 February 14, 2012
Aquamarine to make waves with first array

 Aquamarine Power is set to install two next-generation wave energy converters off the coats of Orkney this year, after securing consent from the Scottish Government to build the UK's first nearshore wave power array.

The Edinburgh-based company yesterday obtained approval to add two 800 killowatt Oyster machines to an existing device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) at Billia Croo, Orkney, taking the total project capacity to 2.4MW.

The demonstrators will become the first near shore wave array in Scotland to be connected to the National Grid, and will supply enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said.

"Scotland is in the midst of a renewables revolution, and it is innovation and creativity such as that behind the Oyster device which will help us meet our ambitious renewable electricity targets and help us reindustrialise Scotland," he added.

Martin McAdam, chief executive of Aquamarine, said timely planning approval was vital if marine energy developers were to accelerate the rollout of emerging wave and tidal energy arrays.

"A clear pathway to all the necessary permits for marine energy development is one of the critical enablers for a business such as ours, and countries that lack a transparent and timely system will fall behind," he warned.

An Aquamarine spokesman told BusinessGreen that the company would now start work on building the machines so they can be installed later this year.

He added that two additional monopiles were sunk alongside the existing device, reducing the amount of construction work that will be required to install the new systems.

The project will also pave the way for Aquamarine to gain all the necessary consents for a 200MW commercial wave energy site off the coast of Orkney, and a 40MW site off the Isle of Lewis.

The news was welcomed by Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy of WWF Scotland, who hailed the project as a major milestone for Scotland's emerging green economy.

"Scotland is well ahead of the game in developing wave power and this technology has the potential to be of global significance in our efforts to tackle climate change and offers huge export benefits too," he said.

"Alongside energy saving measures, marine renewables will have a critical role to play in helping reduce climate emissions as we phase out polluting fossil fuels and nuclear power.

"With careful planning we can harness Scotland's wave and tidal energy to help cut our climate emissions, while safeguarding the nation's tremendous marine environment."