The first minister was on hand at Leith Docks in Edinburgh to officially launch and name the Vagr Atferd P2 wave energy converter.
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The machine, designed and constructed by Pelamis for the energy company E.ON, is capable of generating 750kW of renewable energy and will be installed and tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney along with three other devices.
“I’m delighted that the completed P2 wave energy converter is now ready for deployment at the European Marine Energy Centre and pleased to officially name the device Vagr Atferd,” said the First Minister, revealing the name for the great sea snake chosen by a 10-year-old Orkney schoolboy.
The Norse word means “wave power”.
The device is a 1500-tonne behemoth that is 180 metres in length. That means that it is as long as many famous landmarks are tall -- well over the size of the Forth Road Bridge towers, half again that of the Glasgow
Science Centre tower, or the size of three Scott Monuments combined.
The First Minister said: “Scotland is well-placed to become the clean, green energy powerhouse of Europe, with as much as 10% of its wave power potential, as well as an estimated one-quarter of the continent’s offshore wind and tidal energy capacity.
“Today is another significant step in that journey. It is also testament to E.ON’s strong global commitment to renewable energy generation and to the ambition and innovation of Pelamis in pioneering its internationally renowned wave energy technology.”
Dr Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK, said: “We’re delighted to be a part of such an innovative project. The event marks a milestone in marine technology and the next exciting step for renewable energy in the UK.
“It’s essential that we continue to invest in new technologies, like the Vagr Atferd, to harness the power of nature and to accelerate our transition to a low carbon economy.
“Today’s launch is a celebration of the successes we’ve seen with renewables and a clear example of the changing shape of the UK energy industry.
“There is a real potential for the UK to lead the marine energy sector.”
The deployment of Vagr Atferd to the waters of the Pentland Firth marks the first time the second generation of Pelamis devices have been tested in action.
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, which awarded Pelamis funding from the Marine Renewables Proving Fund to develop and test the latest device, said: “This is another important landmark that shows the UK’s marine energy industry is rapidly coming of age.
“We have a clear lead in this sector and must now capitalise on this to secure maximum benefit in creating new jobs and revenue for the UK.
“Having supported Pelamis with funding from the Marine Renewables Proving Fund, we look forward to continuing to work with them and E.ON testing the device and bringing it a step closer to commercial deployment.”
The machine was named by Matthew Rendall of Stromness Primary School in Orkney, following a competition. Matthew and his family joined the First Minister at the port, where the device was officially launched and named.
E.ON currently owns and operates 21 wind farms from Cornwall to Kintyre, including Robin Rigg in the Solway Firth, which is one of the UK’s largest offshore wind farms.
The energy firm is also a partner in the London Array, which will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm when complete, together with Danish company DONG Energy and Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company.
US trade mission to China seeks green energy deal
President Barack Obama is sending a high-powered trade mission to China in a bid boost green energy sales.
The delegation -- led by US commerce secretary Gary Locke -- will promote technologies related to clean energy, energy efficiency, and electric energy storage, transmission and distribution in Asia.
Meanwhile, industry leader American Superconductor Corp. yesterday announced a new electrical components order from Sinovel Wind. The Beijing-based company -- ranked the world’s third-largest wind turbine maker -- has so far placed orders worth $1billion (£694bn) with AMSC.
China’s potential market for renewable energy is huge. Total investment by its government and private sector last year was £24bn. US and European firms complain they are being squeezed out of the market as Beijing strives to build up its own suppliers.