AN ENERGY-HARNESSING wave machine is set to begin sea trials later this year.

Work has already begun on a new 30-tonne wave machine that it is hoped will help the country’s decarbonisation ambitions.

Fife-based AJS Production Ltd is carrying out the fabrication of the 20-metre long Blue Star wave energy converter which has been designed by Edinburgh start-up Mocean Energy and which will begin the trials this autumn.

The half-scale device will be deployed in Orkney and will undergo a number of tests before generating its first power by the end of the year.

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Cameron McNatt, Mocean Energy managing director, said: “The UK oil and gas sector is exploring ways to decarbonise their operations and this technology has a range of uses in powering subsea technology.

“Our Blue Star design has undergone rigorous numerical modelling and tank testing at the world leading wave tank at Nantes and it is very exciting to see it taking shape in steel in advance of sea trials.

“AJS Production has a great track record in offshore fabrication and it is terrific to see work progressing so well.”

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Following completion, the machine will undergo quayside ballasting and wet-testing at Burntislandbefore it is transported by land to Aberdeen and then ferry to Orkney.

Last month Mocean Energy announced a pilot project with oil major Chrysaor and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to study the potential to use the Blue Star prototype to power a subsea battery and a remote underwater vehicle at the Orkney site.

Raymond Imrie, managing director at AJS Production Ltd, said: “This is a great project to be involved in and is yet another milestone in Scotland being at the forefront in leading the UK to become carbon neutral. The project is well underway and although we have been involved in similar contracts, we are still learning lessons when it comes to working on prototypes of this scale. We have had the backing of a good lead team, along with a professional design team, who have certainly made the project run smoothly.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the device launched successfully and sea trials beginning in the autumn.”

It is hoped the technology could be used to power underwater robots, with a low-carbon source of power with the potential to fuel fleets of unmanned vessels.

Mocean won £3.3 million in funding from Wave Energy Scotland to build a half-scale version for tests. The technology uses a hinged floating raft that captures the ocean flow to charge onboard batteries from which electricity can then be exported through a cable.