Wave energy company Aquamarine Power has successfully removed both cylinder modules from their Oyster 800 wave machine as part of a comprehensive summer refit – with the firm aiming to recommence Oyster power generation in the autumn.
The 800kW test machine, located at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, has already clocked up three full winters at sea – a world first – and has generated multiple megawatt hours of electrical power.
The single Oyster 800 unit at EMEC has now achieved over 20,000 hours of operations in all sea conditions, proving survivability through even the worst winter storms.
The company is now focussed on improving Oyster 800's reliability through a summer product improvement programme with the goal of sustained power generation later in the year.
"The cylinder removal operation went like clockwork," says Aquamarine Power Chief Executive Officer Martin McAdam. "Last year it took seven operational days to prepare and remove a single cylinder. This month we removed the first module in under four days and the second one in three days.
"To achieve this, our team learned the lessons of last year, changed the procedure, modified equipment and worked with local supplier Leask Marine to improve the operation.
"This shows the real benefit of full-scale operations at sea – these lessons cannot be learned in a lab or on the quayside and we need to make sure we understand and capture everything that goes well, and everything that doesn't, as our industry progresses.
"A viable wave energy device has to operate through the full energy production season. Almost 70 per cent of the energy in waves is created between October and March. Oyster is the only machine to have operated through the winter at the EMEC wave test site; we have just proven the first phase of machine structural survivability. We have a lot more to do.
"The coming months will see new challenges, with the installation of improved cylinder and accumulator modules, as well as upgraded control and instrumentation and onshore works, during which time we intend to gather all the experience we can," McAdam concludes.