On November 20th, Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, flipped the switch and turned on what is being called the world’s largest working hydro-electric wave energy device. Named the Oyster, the device, which was built by Aquamarine Power, is located off the coast of Scotland at the European Marine Energy Centre’s Billia Croo site near of Stomness, Scotland, and is now producing power which is being fed into the national grid. The Oyster works by pumping high pressure water to an onshore hydro-electric turbine – no electrical components are located offshore.
Aquamarine Power's Oyster
The Oyster is a simple mechanical hinged flap that’s anchored to the seabed at a depth of about 30 ft (10 meters). Every wave that passes over the Oyster moves the flap, which drives hydraulic pistons that pump high pressure water through a pipeline to an onshore electrical turbine. Aquamarine Power says that 20 Oysters linked together can provide enough electricity to power about 9000 homes, and by using a simpler mechanical design to be deployed close to shore, will provide much cheaper and reliable power than other wave power designs. If you want to see an animation of how the Oyster works, click here.