Wave energy, or wave power, is the conversion of energy from sea waves to produce renewable electricity. Waves are generated by wind passing over the surface of the sea. The size of the waves is determined by the shape of the seabed, wave speed, wave length, water depth and currents. Wave power is predictable and reliable and it increases during the winter when the demand for electricity is at its peak.

Wave energy converters harness the power of the waves to produce electricity. Depending on their design these can be positioned either near the shoreline or in deep waters offshore.

Scotland is the global leader in the wave and tidal energy innovation and technology sector. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Stromness, Orkney, is the world’s first grid connected, accredited test facility for wave and tidal devices and technologies. Opened in 2004, EMEC’s aim is to support the development of wave and tidal energy devices from the prototype stage through to their commercial use.

EMEC have identified six feasible types of wave energy converters, these include Pelamis P2 (deep water wave) - fabricated by Steel Engineering Ltd and pictured above, Oyster (near shore wave) and Limpet (shoreline wave).

Not only is Scotland the global leader in both wave and tidal project development, the country is also at the forefront of marine energy investment with the world’s first commercial wave and tidal leasing schemes being developed in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.  This involves 11 sites, 6 wave and 5 tidal stream, which will generate 1.6GW (gigawatts) of energy by 2020, enough to power around 70,000 homes.

Additionally, it is estimated that 10% of Europe’s total wave power resources lies off the coastline of Scotland. This presents us with a potential 15GW (gigawatts) of power that could be generated from our wave resources alone, enough to meet the country’s peak electricity demand two and a half times over. Furthermore, it has been estimated that the combined potential of Scotland’s wave and tidal resources could produce up to 60GW of energy, ten times the country’s annual electricity consumption.

In 2009, The Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland (FREDS) and the Marine Energy Group (MEG) published a report that stated there was a high possibility that 2GW (gigawatts) of installed capacity from wave and tidal energy would be achieved by 2020. This would bring £2.4 billion of investment and result in 5,300 new jobs being created in Scotland.




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