A WAVE energy firm has entered discussions with salmon producers to see if its technology could help power offshore fish farms.

AWS Ocean Energy, which is based in Inverness, has now completed a deployment and initial testing phase of a half-scale version of its AWS-III wave power generator in waters off Lyness on Orkney.

The diaphragm structure, constructed out of materials similar to a bullet proof vest, works by converting the power of waves into compressed air which is then used to turn a turbine and generate electricity. Until recently AWS has been focused on large scale deployment of its technology to generate power for the national grid.

Loading article content

However it now believes smaller devices could be used for fish farms and also to help provide power to remote communities around the world.

Simon Grey, chief executive, said: "It is early stages with the fish farms and there is quite a lot of interest and excitement.

"We are having discussions around what our technology can do, what people actually need and how we can set about working together."

Mr Grey admitted AWS has been surprised at the level of interest from the aquaculture sector.

He said: "It is quite a change of direction for us as previously we had been focused on as large a scale as possible for utility power production into the national grid.

"We hadn't really thought the smaller scale isolated power supplies was a market.

"Partly that was ignorance as we had no idea quite how big the fish farm market was.

"It is big in Scotland but it is a drop in the ocean, excuse the pun, compared with the worldwide market.

"There is a lot of potential out there, he added."

The lower costs as well as the quicker development and manufacturing of smaller devices was also pointed out by Mr Grey.

AWS is also looking into the potential of supplying its technology to remote communities and Mr Grey said: "To power a small village you only need a few tens of kilowatts, you don't need megawatts."

The company's current rig will also undergo further ocean testing over the next six to 12 months to gather more data on its operation.

Mr Grey said: "It is all part of the technical development process of gathering data, understanding things better and moving ourselves forward so we can commercialise things. Our work at Lyness has been all about demonstrating the durability of the diaphragms and providing data to further refine our designs."

AWS, which is owned by its management, has received funding from Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise through programmes such as Waters 1 and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund.