Name: Cameron McNatt.

Age: 37.

What is your business called?

Mocean Energy.

Where is it based?

Edinburgh and we have an office in Aberdeen.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

Mocean Energy develops ocean wave energy converters (WECs), which transform energy in ocean waves into electricity. We design wave-energy products for various applications in markets from oil and gas to utility scale power.

Our first product is our Blue Star converter which is designed to power subsea oil and gas equipment.

Power is currently provided with long subsea umbilical cables that cost £1 million to £2m per kilometre.

The inspection, repair and maintenance of subsea equipment is increasingly being done by subsea robots. These robots and other subsea equipment require power that is generated by offshore gas turbines, which generate emissions.

We are already working on a project with oil and gas firm Chysaor and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to trial a subsea system using our Blue Star 001 prototype in Orkney.

To whom does it sell?

Our goal is to license our technology to companies that will build and sell the product to customers.

What is its turnover?


How many employees?

Six full time, one part time, a contractor, a seconded PhD student, and an intern.

When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

It was more of a gradual immersion. I’m American, and grew up in Maryland, next to Chesapeake Bay. I’ve sailed since I was a teenager and in early adulthood, romanticised sailing, the ocean, and travelling.

I studied electrical engineering at Yale University and graduated in 2004. In 2007, I took a job at a naval architecture firm that developed software for ship simulations. Then in 2010, I went to get a Masters in Ocean Engineering at Oregon State University where I focused my research on wave energy. I then applied to the University of Edinburgh to do a PhD working on wave energy, particularly the hydrodynamics of wave farms. I moved to Edinburgh with my wife and first son in 2012 and completed my PhD in late 2015.

At that time the big players in wave energy, Pelamis and Aquamarine Power, were going into administration. The industry I hoped to enter was crashing.

However, in the wake of that three things emerged for me:

I met my business partner, Chris Retzler – a co-founder of Pelamis and its Principal Scientist. After Pelamis shut its doors, Chris found work at Edinburgh Uni and we got to know one another.

The Scottish Government created Wave Energy Scotland (WES) which provides funding dedicated to wave energy, in a structured way,

The US Department of Energy launched the Wave Energy Prize.

Chris and I developed a rough software optimisation program for optimising the geometry/shape of a hinged-raft wave energy converter which on paper produced much more power than traditional designs.

With opportunities for projects and funding provided by WES and the Wave Energy Prize, Chris and I formed Mocean Energy in July 2015.

What was your biggest break?

I have been fortunate to have numerous big breaks, including:

Receiving a Global Research Scholarship to do my PhD in Edinburgh.

Being accepted into the Wave Energy Scotland Novel WEC programme and passing through the various stage gates to Stage 3. Only two companies were awarded a Stage 3 project to build and test a sea-going prototype. This is the £3.3m project we are carrying on now.

Being accepted into the Oil & Gas Technology Centre’s TechX program. TechX is a start-up accelerator based in Aberdeen around oil and gas. Involvement in TechX was transformational toward getting a commercial interest in our technology.

Our relationship with Chrysaor, which has developed into our project to develop subsea power for the oil and gas industry.

What was your worst moment?

Like big breaks, there are a lot of tough moments as well, and the toughest moments are around money.

Coronavirus is a big challenge – the fabrication of our prototype WEC has halted for the moment. We are working on mitigations.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I really enjoy the business becoming bigger than myself and Chris. I like having a team which is engaged, passionate and eager to contribute.

What do you least enjoy?

I started Mocean because I liked computer programming, physics simulation, and designing WECs. However, now I spend very little time doing that, which I miss, but I do try to ensure that I carve out some time for the technical stuff – it contributes and brings me joy.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Continue to provide support through the WES program and through the OGTC. Put in place a market pull mechanism (in other words a tariff) for utility-scale wave power.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

To find balance.

I’m not always good at this, but turning off, getting sleep, relaxing, being present with my family, is really important to rejuvenating and results in more productivity when I’m at work.

How do you relax?

Spending time with my family; exercise; meditating; watching shows with my wife.

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